No one can be forced to listen to something: HC

PRAYAGRAJ: Allahabad has held that azaan (the call to ritual prayer in Islam) can be recited from mosque minarets only with a human voice and without the use of any amplifying or speaker devices.

The court added that such human voice recitation cannot be hampered on the pretext that it violates guidelines issued by the state government to contain the pandemic.

In pronouncing the ruling on Friday, the court also held that azaan may be an essential part of Islam, but its recitation through a loudspeaker or other amplifying device cannot be said to be an integral part of religion and to guarantee the protection of law. consecrated fundamental. under Article 25 of the Constitution (right to religious freedom), which is even otherwise subject to public order, morals and health, and other provisions of the Constitution. Therefore, under no circumstances may district administration allow sound amplifying devices to be used between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

It cannot be said that a citizen should be forced to listen to something they do not like or do not require, as it amounts to taking away the fundamental right of the other person, the court noted.

In disposing of a PIL presented by Ghazipur BSP MP Afzal Ansari and others, a division bank comprising Judge Shashi Kant Gupta and Judge Ajit Kumar observed: Traditionally, and according to the religious order, it should be recited by the imam or the person in charge of mosques, through his own voice.

The right to religion at no time in the imagination should be practiced, professed and propagated by saying that a microphone has become an essential part of religion. No one has the right to make other people captive listeners. One cannot disturb the basic human rights and fundamental rights of others. The use of speakers can cause hearing loss, sleep disturbances, communication interference, discomfort, etc. and other diseases. The right to sleep is not only a fundamental right, but must be recognized as a basic human right, the court noted.

In issuing this ruling, the court ordered the secretary general to forward a copy of the ruling to the UP chief secretary for later circulation to all district magistrates in the state to ensure compliance.

In the PIL, Ansari had asked the court to order the Ghazipur administration to allow recitation of azaan by a single person from mosques, as it does not violate guidelines issued to contain Covid-19.

Similarly, former Union law minister Salman Khurshid had also written a letter to the higher court with the same request to the public in Farukkhabad and Hathras, which was also heard as a PIL with this matter.

It was alleged that the pronouncement of azaan was not a congregational practice but simply an act of recitation by a single individual who called the believer to offer namaz in their homes and, therefore, did not violate any prevailing confinement condition.

It was also alleged that on Ramzan Eve, on April 24, 2020, the local administration, under the supervision of the Ghazipur district magistrate, began to prevent all mosques within the district from reciting the azaan. Several people complained that the police were using force to implement this illegal and arbitrary ban.

The prohibition of azaan through amplification devices was claimed to violate a citizen's fundamental right as azaan is an essential religious practice and for the well-being of the religious community.

However, the state government said in its affidavit that since March 24, when the closure was announced, there was no religious activity in any religious place. Also, temples, mosques, gurdwaras, etc., do not use speakers for any religious purpose.

Referring to the government-issued guidelines, it was stated that the new guidelines stipulate that all religious places of worship will be closed to the public and religious congregations are strictly prohibited.

In response to counsel's claims for the petitioners, the court observed: The petitioner's attorney has been unable to explain why azaan cannot be offered without the use of sound amplification devices. It will not be out of place to mention that in the past, during the old days when the speaker was not invented, the human voice used to give azaan. The use of a microphone is a practice developed by someone and not by the Prophet or his main disciples, and that was not there in the past, and that the microphone is of recent origin and, therefore, it cannot be said that the use of a microphone and a speaker is an essential and integral part of 'azaan' ”.

However, the court ordered that if an application for the use of a loudspeaker is filed with the authorities concerned, the authorities concerned may resolve it in accordance with the law, including noise pollution standards.