In a major reprieve for residents of Shivaji Park, Dadar, the Bombay high court on Monday directed police authorities to keep the famous ground loudspeaker-free.
A division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Anuja Prabhudessai directed the senior inspector of police, Shivaji Park police station, to file an affidavit with a categorical statement that henceforth no permission will be granted for the use of loudspeakers or sound amplifiers at the famous grounds.
“The law is well settled now, that loudspeaker cannot be allowed to be used in a silence zone,” the bench said. It further directed the affidavit of the senior police inspector must also contain a statement that if a loudspeaker is found being used in any event at Shivaji Park, immediate steps will be taken to stop such use and criminal action will be taken against the organiser of the event not only under provisions of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, but also under stringent provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
The directives came after the bench noticed that despite the high court holding that no loudspeakers can be allowed in a silence zone, the senior inspector of police of Shivaji Park police station had granted permission to use loudspeakers on the ground, a notified silence zone, for a programme celebrating Children’s Day.
Besides, the judges also took note of the fact that although no permission was granted, loudspeakers were used during the Jagannath Rathyatra held recently at Shivaji Park, and when the judges sought to know as to what action was taken against the organisers of this Yatra, it was told that action was initiated against them only under provisions of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951.
“We want you [the police officials] to exercise your powers under the Noise Pollution Rules, 2000, and take immediate steps to stop the use of such loudspeakers,” said the bench. “We also want you to take action against persons using loudspeakers not only under provisions of the Maharashtra Police Act, but also under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act,” it added.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by Wacom Trust in its pending PIL seeking a declaration that Shivaji Park was a playground and no public rallies could be held there.
The plea complained about violation of the court ruling that loudspeakers cannot be allowed in a silence zone by the police. The plea also complained about the lack of effective action by the police in cases of violation by some event organisers by using loudspeakers even after their applications seeking permission to use them having been turned down by the police.