The Bombay high court on Thursday stayed the implementation of a notification issued by the state government imposing maximum decibel limit for vehicular horns –10dB louder that the sound of the engine.
The state environment department had issued the notification on July 31, 2014, purportedly pursuant to orders issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), imposing restrictions on use of horns, including sirens and multi-toned horns, and limiting their maximum sound level not exceeding 10dB above the engine sound level. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd approached the HC challenging the validity of the notification so far as it imposed restrictions on decibel limit of normal horns fitted on vehicles.
The counsel for the vehicle manufacturer, senior advocate Aspi Chinoy, submitted that the noise level of horns is regulated by Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, and the rule require that vehicles shall be fitted with horns having decibel level between 93dB and 112dB. But, if the company followed the state notification, it will have to fit all the 17 models of four wheelers manufactured by it with horns having maximum decibel level of 76dB to 84dB, as the noise level of the engines is between 66dB to 74dB, and the company will not get approval to any of its products, as then it would not following provisions of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.
Chinoy pointed out that the NGT had issued orders about sirens and multi-toned horns and in fact had not ordered the government to place any restrictions on regular or ordinary horns. Besides, the counsel said, the horn of a vehicle is required to serve a purpose of warning others and it would not be served if the sound level of horns is restricted to 10dB above the noise level of the engines.
The division bench of Chief Justice DH Waghela and justice MS Sonak accepted the contention and noted that the NGT order of January 2013 was not apparently about normal horns, but was restricted to sirens and multi-toned ones.
“This is something, which was possibly never even intended by the NGT when it made its order dated January 9, 2013. The perusal of the order dated January 9, 2013, also prima facie indicates that the directions issued therein were in relation to the user of sirens or multi-toned horns, but not, normal horns installed in motor vehicles,” the bench said. It clarified that the order of stay would not be applicable to sirens or multi-toned horns.