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India 'Night' Is A Nightmare In India

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
'Night' is a nightmare in India

Abhinav Sharma, TNN, Jan 4, 2011, 05.47pm IST

<script>var facebookktitle='\'Night\' is a nightmare in India'; facebookktitle=facebookktitle+" - The Times of India"; var facebooksyn='To the cacophony of the sounds of barking dogs and sirens, add late night wedding drums, rooftop DJs, \'Jagrans\' and early morning \'Azans\' on loudspeakers and you will get a picture of the nightmare Indians live at night in various parts of the country.';</script>
<!-- google_ad_section_start -->JAIPUR: To the cacophony of the sounds of barking dogs and sirens, add late night wedding drums, rooftop DJs, 'Jagrans' and early morning 'Azans' on loudspeakers and you will get a picture of the nightmare Indians live at night in various parts of the country.

Late night noise pollution has become a serious problem across India even though there is a Supreme Court and central government ban on it.

In 2005, the Supreme court in 'Re: Noise Pollution - Implementation of the Laws for Restricting Use of Loudspeakers and High Volume Producing Sound Systems' case held that the right to life included the right to listen or not to listen any noise and no one could take shelter of the Indian constitution's Art. 19 (1)(a) (freedom of expression) for creating noise. While stressing on the noise pollution created during night, the court defined 'night' as an intervening period between 10 pm to 6 am and imposed a complete ban on playing loud music or making any type of noise.

The central government, in 2009, brought a certain amendment in the Central Acts and Rules relating to environmental pollution showing some concern toward the rampant violation of noise pollution laws. Under the central rules prohibiting noise pollution, a penal provision of imprisonment for a period of five years or fine extending upto Rs. one lakh was introduced. The amendment made the offence of noise pollution non-bailable.

Recently, the central government while complying with the Supreme court's directive after a lapse of four years made a provision in central acts prohibiting late night noise pollution by amplifiers, loudspeakers, music system etc. But there is still scant knowledge of such a ban among common people and even the law enforcement machinery of states has miserably failed to implement the provisions of the Central Act as well as the local Noise Control Act.

Most of the states are either having no such law or their noise control acts are still running inconsistent with the provisions of the Central Act and therefore noise pollution is still a bailable offence. Surprisingly, there is no enactment in any state of the country to effectively check late night noise pollution despite the 2005 directive of the Supreme court.

Although, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa have a specific legislation on noise pollution but their law is inconsistent with the central act. Where the Madhya Pradesh Control of Music and Noises Act, 1951 does not define as to what type of noise can be prohibited at night, the penalty is imprisonment for just one month and fine not exceeding Rs. 100. Similarly in Bihar and Orissa a penalty provision ranging from Rs. 100 to 250 has been made which makes noise pollution only a petty offence. Though, the Uttar Pradesh Nagar Mahapalika (Prohibition of Noise and Regulation of Loudspeakers) Rules, 1987 has restricted use of loudspeakers from 8 am to 10 pm but the punishment for violation at night is only a meager fine.

The Rajasthan Noises Control Act, 1963, though implemented, has left 'loud noise' and 'prohibited noises' undefined. Also, the law has not been updated in accordance with the latest amendment in the central act.

In its 2005 judgment, the Supreme Court took a note of the fact that the law relating to pollution and especially noise pollution was existing merely on statute books in the country. In its judgment imposing a ban on the use of firecrackers and making loud noise at 'night', the Supreme Court has held,"The issue of noise pollution in India has not been taken so far with that seriousness as it ought to have been. There is a lack of will on the part of the executive to implement the laws."



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