Parties had an obligation to adhere to noise pollution norms
GN Bureau | October 17, 2015
“Political parties should make an earnest endeavour to keep enthusiasm low and ensure residents are not troubled by noise,” observed Bombay high court while allowing the ruling alliance partner Shiv Sena to hold its annual rally on Dussehra day (Oct 22) at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park.
"We are of the view that political parties should take into consideration difficulties faced by residents of the area and make earnest endeavour to keep their enthusiasm at low level and ensure residents are not troubled by excessive noise pollution. Ultimately it can't be forgotten that political parties are there for the benefit of people and citizens of the area and not vice versa,'' said a bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi.
The court said though political parties and organizations had the right to assemble for religious and cultural events, they had an obligation to adhere to noise pollution norms. “In case of violations, appropriate directions will have to be given and action initiated against persons responsible for violations,” said the bench.
The government pointed out that since 2010, permission had been granted. Advocate general Shrihari Aney said a series of orders had been passed on the issue.
The court had earlier directed that Shivaji Park could not be used for non-sporting activity without court orders except on four days, which included Republic Day, and Independence Day.
Pleas were filed, in a pending public interest litigation by Wecom Trust, by the state government and Sena to hold the rally on October 22. On May 5, 2010, the HC directed Shivaji Park be declared a silence zone. The bench considered "the peculiar facts prevailing in 2014'' while allowing the pleas.
Asked about silence zone, Aney replied, "Noise is a fact of life. Court has to look at the reality.'' He also said if a pragmatic balance is not maintained there would be civil revolt on streets.
Advocate V A Thorat, appearing for Sena, said the rally and immersions at Dadar Chowpatty coincide. "The petitioner says noise from immersion processions is the noise from the rally. It is not possible to segregate both noises," said Thorat. Justice Kanade quipped, "Your (Sena) noise is different.''
Wecom Trust, the original petitioner on whose public interest litigation the court had in May 2010 directed the Park to be declared a silence zone, opposed the government’s and Sena’s plea. Senior advocate Virag Tulzapurkar, for Wecom, said Sena calls it a cultural event and wants to distribute sona (leaves) and wondered why it needs loudspeakers. "Local residents are the worst sufferers,'' he added. He said loudspeakers of any kind cannot be allowed in a silence zone under Noise Pollution Rules 2000 and even supreme court has said no exemption could be granted. On November 23, the court will fix a date for final hearing of the PIL.
BMC counsel Anil Sakhare said the rally should be permitted with conditions to keep noise within limits.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar, who filed an intervention application, appearing for a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena corporator, said the government is coming forward to help because Sena is part of the ruling alliance. “For others, the rule is different,” he said.
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