Majority of Muslims denounces the excessive use of loudspeakers for religious activities and prayers. The courts have also dealt with the issue in the past with various judgments.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has recently urged the Maharashtra government to remove loudspeakers from mosques.
Addressing his supporters at a rally in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park on April 02, Raj Thackeray said, “Why are loudspeakers in mosques played at such high volume? If this is not stopped, there will be speakers outside mosques playing Hanuman Chalisa (devotional song praising Lord Hanuman) at a higher volume.”
He further said, “I am not against prayer, or any particular religion. I do take pride in my own religion.”
After the anti-hijab row and anti-halal meat campaign in Karnataka, the outfits such as the Bajrang Dal and the Sriram Sena have now called for a ban on the use of loudspeakers in mosques. They have demanded that azaan must not be offered using loudspeakers atop mosques. They have threatened to play devotional songs like bjahans on loudspeakers near mosques if their objection is not addressed.
Previously, Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam had also stirred up a row on social media when he put out a Twitter post terming morning azaan “forced religiousness”. He had said back in 2017, “God bless everyone. I’m not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by the Azaan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India?”
The Supreme Court had in July 2005 banned the use of loudspeakers and music systems between 10 pm to 6 am (except in the cases of public emergencies) at public places citing serious effects of noise pollution on health of the people living in such areas.
Various PILs to ban use of loudspeakers
Different public interest litigations (PILs) have been filed in the high courts of Gujarat, Jharkhand and some other states recently seeking ban on the use of loudspeakers in mosques. The courts have dealt with the issue in the past with various judgments.
On October 28, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that loudspeakers could be permitted to be used till midnight on festive occasions for 15 days a year.
In August 2016, the Bombay High Court ruled that the use of loudspeaker was not a fundamental right.
On June 26, 2018, the Uttarakhand High Court set a five-decibel limit for loudspeakers.
In September 2018, the Karnataka High Court banned the use of loudspeakers after 10 pm.
In July 2019, the Punjab and Haryana High Court banned the use on loudspeakers at public places, including religious bodies.
On May 15, 2020, the Allahabad High Court held that azaan could be recited by a muezzin from minarets of the mosques by human voice only without using any amplifying device or loudspeakers.
The Uttarakhand High Court modified in July 2020 its earlier order pronounced in June 2018 limiting the noise level at five decibels calling it an “accidental error”.
On January 11, 2021, the Karnataka High Court directed the state government to act against illegal loudspeakers at religious places in the state.
In November 2021, the Karnataka High Court asked the state government to explain the provisions of the law under which loudspeakers and public address systems had been allowed in mosques, and what action is being taken to restrict their use.
Interestingly, majority of Muslim scholars also denounces the excessive use of loudspeakers for religious activities and prayers. Some of Muslim clerics have even been considering the use of loudspeaker an illegal act in prayers. Common people coming from Muslim community consider its use a disturbing religious act which is not mandatory in Islam. It is said Islam denounces any act that troubles mankind.