"I realise that some of my criticisms may be mistaken; but to refuse to criticize judgements for fear of being mistaken is to abandon criticism altogether... If any of my criticisms are found to be correct, the cause is served; and if any are found to be incorrect the very process of finding out my mistakes must lead to the discovery of the right reasons, or better reasons than I have been able to give, and the cause is served just as well."

-Mr. HM Seervai, Preface to the 1st ed., Constitutional Law of India.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

SC Judgments

Silence is Golden and a Human Right - SC on Noise Pollution
Farhd K. Wadia v. Union of India & Ors., Civil Appeal No. 7131 of 2008. Date of Judgment 5-12-08

Dismissing an appeal against the rejection of a petition for certiorari, seeking direction to the Maharashtra Government to grant permission for music concert in “silence zone” (as per Rules 2 (e) and 2(f) The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000,) the SC reminds us about the value of silence.
Interference by the court in respect of noise pollution is premised on the basis that a citizen has certain rights being `necessity of silence', `necessity of sleep', `process during sleep' and `rest', which are biological necessities and essential for health. Silence is considered to be golden. It is considered to be one of the human rights as noise is injurious to human health which (sic) is required to be preserved at any cost.
The court highlights the judgment of the Calcutta High Court in Om Birangana Religious Society v. State of West Bengal [decided on 11th August, 1998] and the guidelines issued therein
"(a) There will be complete ban on the use of horn type loud-speakers within city residential areas and also prohibit the use of play back of pre-recorded music etc. through such horn type loud- speakers unless used with sound-limiter.
(b) In cultural functions which are live functions, use of such pre-recorded music should not be used excepting for the purpose of announcement and/ or actual performance and placement of speaker boxes should be restricted within the area of performance facing the audience. No sound generating devise should be placed outside the main area of performance.
(c) Cultural programmes in open air may be held excepting at least before three days of holding Board/ Council Examinations to till examinations are completed in residential areas or areas where educational institutions are situated.
(d) The distance of holding such functions from the silence zones should be 100 meters and in so far as Schools, Colleges, Universities, Courts are concerned, it will be treated as silence zones till the end of the office hours and/ or the teaching hours. Hospitals and some renowned and important Nursing Homes will be treated as silence zones round the clock."
The present appeal was rejected on a technical ground. The rejection of permission to conduct the concert by the Government was because of the decision of the HC of Bombay on 25.09.2003 in a PIL filed by Dr. Yeshwant Trimbak Oke & Ors. Which sought direction to the State to curb noise pollution in general in the city of Mumbai and particularly during the festive seasons. The present appellant is not a party to that suit and nor has the petitioner of the PIL is impleaded in this proceedings. Therefore when “[t]he High Court in the earlier public interest litigation, being Writ Petition No. 2053 of 2003, admittedly passed an order of injunction. If the said order was required to be modified or clarified and/or relaxation was to be prayed for and granted in regard to Rang Bhavan, the appellant should have filed an application in the said proceeding. An independent public interest litigation to obtain a relief which would be contrary to and inconsistent with the order of injunction passed by the court was not maintainable. Inter alia, the doctrine of comity or amity demands the same.”

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