The Karnataka High Court disposed of public interest litigation alleging that the contents of Azan (call for prayers in Islam) hurt the sentiments of followers of other faiths. This was seen in the case of CHANDRASHEKAR R v. THE STATE OF KARNATAKA (Case No: WP 10473/2022) and the judgment was presided over by a division bench of acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty.
Facts of the case-
In the case at hand, a writ petition was filed under articles 226 and 227 of the constitution of India praying to issue any order, directing the respondents to stop the mosques in the state of Karnataka for using objectionable words through loudspeakers while calling azan prayer 5 times in a day throughout the year.
Judgement of the case-
The bench made a note that Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India embody the principle of religious toleration which is an indispensable part of Indian Civilization. Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India confers a fundamental right on all persons to freely profess, practice and propagate their religion. However, the aforementioned right is not absolute but is subject to restrictions on the grounds of public order, morality and health, as well as subject to provisions in Part III of the Constitution of India.
Following this, the court said, “Similarly, the believers of other faiths have the right to practice their faith. Azan is a call to offer prayers. However, the contention that the contents of Azan violate the fundamental right guaranteed to the petitioner, as well as the persons of other faith, cannot be accepted. It is also pertinent to note that it is not the case of the petitioner himself that his fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India is being infringed in any manner by calling of Azan through loudspeakers.”
Against this backdrop, the High Court said that it is worth mentioning that the use of loudspeakers, public address systems and sound-producing instruments is governed by the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 read with Section 37 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963.
Finally, the HC directed the respondents to ensure that the loudspeakers, public address systems, sound-producing instruments and other musical instruments shall not be permitted to be used above permissible decibels during the night from 10.00 p.m to 6.00 a.m.
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Judgement reviewed by Alaina Fatima.