The Bombay high court on Thursday refused Shivaji Park Gymkhana the permission to use loudspeakers for Christmas and New Year’s eve celebrations this year, saying that Shivaji Park had become a “dumping ground” with every kind of function being organised there because of the lack of an alternate open space.
The bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice Nutan Sardessai said that the Supreme Court, as well as a division bench of the Bombay High Court, had passed detailed orders on noise pollution norms. A part of them prohibited the use of loudspeakers in silent zones and accordingly, the court could not allow the use of loudspeakers.
It said that people organised anything from a birthday parties to events as banal as selling oranges at Shivaji Park and the authorities had failed to contain noise pollution and implement the courts’ orders on the same.
The court also asked the BMC and the state government to explain why they had failed to implement the courts’ orders on restricting noise pollution.
The observations came after the Gymkhana club said that it only required loudspeaker usage in an area of 800 of the total 19,000 yards of the ground, and that they would only be used for “making public announcements” and not “playing music”.
The petitioner also argued that there was no clause in the SC orders that prohibited use of loudspeakers in silent zones. Instead, the orders only imposed a restriction on their use after 10pm and beyond the mandated decibel limit.”
The HC, however, held that the above argument could not be accepted and a “silent zone meant it had to be an absolute silent zone with no exceptions.”
The bench went on to say that it could not make any exception for New Years’ eve for this would lead to several more such requests as “Hindus have a different New Year from the Parsis and in South India, harvest festivals are celebrated as New Year and not everybody can be allowed to celebrate at Shivaji Park.”
“Now, there also seems to be a competition, as after the early morning Azaan or prayer call from mosques, neighbourhood temple bells and devotional music begins blaring through loudspeakers and residents are forced to wake up,” the bench said.
The bench is likely to pass a detailed order on Friday, recording its reasons for declining the Gymkhana’s request.