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Calcutta HC: Unabated Beating of Drums in Muharram is Illegal & Impermissible, Police Directed to Regulate Open Air Kitchens

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Noise Pollution, road and vehicles in the background

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Published on: 29 July 2023 at 13:15 IST

The Calcutta High Court, in response to a plea seeking directions against severe noise pollution caused by continuous drum beating during the mourning ritual on Muharram, pulled up the police authorities in the State.

The court directed the authorities to regulate the period for beating of drums on July 29, 2023.

Referring to the Church of God (Full Gospel) in India vs. KKR Majestic Colony Welfare Association & Ors. A.I.R. 2000 SC 2773, which states that no religion prescribes prayer through noise amplifiers or drum beating, the court emphasized that it is the duty of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board to issue a public notice prior to any religious festival, congregation, rally, or meeting to prohibit indiscriminate noise pollution.

While acknowledging that drum beating may be part of the mourning ritual, the court stated that unabated drum beating is impermissible under relevant rules and Supreme Court observations.

If the petitioner’s claim that drum beating continues day and night in her area and other parts of Kolkata is true, it is undoubtedly illegal and contrary to the relevant rules.

The petitioner argued that the non-stop drum beating, without any restriction on intensity, poses a serious threat to public health and welfare.

Comparing it to the ban on Azan using loudspeakers, which lasts only five minutes, the petitioner asserted that such continuous drum beating is illegal.

The court also questioned the police’s permission for open-air kitchens, considering the nuisance it causes to the petitioner’s family and neighborhood. In response, the court directed the police to regulate such open-air kitchens.

Based on the circumstances and rules established by the Apex Court, the court directed the Police Authorities to create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for religious festivals, meetings, and rallies involving the use of DJ music, drum beating, and other musical instruments.

The West Bengal Pollution Control Board was further directed to issue a public notice immediately, informing the public that the noise level must not exceed the permissible decibel as per the relevant rules and notifications.

The notice should also state that any violation will result in penal action under pollution control laws.