While areas within 100 metres of schools, hospitals, shrines and courts are designated as silence zones, the institutions themselves cannot be notified as silence zones.
The Bombay high court on Friday struck down a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) decision declaring Raja Shivaji Vidyasankul at Dadar a silence zone. The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and justice Niteen Jamdar said the school did not require permission from the police and the local planning authority for school-related activities.
The court has, however, said the school would require prior permission for any commercial activity carried out on its campus, according to assistant government pleader MD Naik.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Indian Education Society, which administers 65 schools across Maharashtra and four colleges in the city. The institution had approached the high court challenging the BMC's decision to declare one of their schools, Raja Shivaji Vidyasankul at Dadar, a
On Friday, the court also directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to clarify its stand about the impracticability of minimum standards for residential and silence zones. The court has given the central ministry time up to June 22 to respond to the observation.
Raju Subramaniam, counsel for the petitioner, had pointed out that the noise standards for ambient air set out by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) were unreasonable and impracticable. The CPCB has prescribed 55 decibels (dB) and 45 dB as maximum permissible levels for daytime and night-time, respectively, in residential areas. Whereas, the corresponding limits for a silence zone are 50 dB and 40 dB. On Friday, the judges said the minimum permissible noise levels required revision.
"It is impossible to adhere to these norms. It would be impossible for a school to admit students in kindergarten and primary section, if the school was to adhere to these norms," Subramaniam said.