In an attempt to make Navratri less noisy, the Bombay high court on Tuesday asked the civic body and police to grant permissions to mandals at least 30 days before the festival from next year, so that organsiers get time to make arrangements to regulate noise levels.
The directive came after the division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Nitin Jamdar noted that in many cases authorities granted mandals permissions at the last moment and organisers could not make ensure noise levels were in check.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Aawaz Foundation, an NGO, seeking that the permission granted by the bench to Navyuvak Mitra Mandal on October 20 to host dandiya sessions in a silence zone at Mulund be revoked. NGO counsel said that noise levels at the venue were beyond permissible levels, at 91 to 95 decibels.
MS Karnik, representing the mandal, said that the organisers could not make arrangements for a distributed sound system (see box) - as directed by the court - since the police gave them permission at the eleventh hour.
Taking a cue from the case, the court has asked the police and civic authorities to invite applications at least 45 to 60 days before Navratri, and decide on them at least a month before the festival.
Judges also expressed a need to revisit the upper limit of 50dB in silence zones, stating that if it is reasonably increased people could abide by it. The counsel for Aawaz Foundation also opposed the permission granted to the mandal to host dandiya sessions in a silence zone. They sought an order restricting authorities from granting any permission in silence zones. The bench declined to pass sweeping orders, but clarified that allowing the mandal to host dandiya sessions in a silence zone was an exception. The permission was subject to the use of distributed sound system instead of conventional loudspeakers to minimise noise.