Clear your stand, high court to Gujarat government on using loudspeakers for azaan
Gandhinagar doctor Dharmendra Prajapati filed a petition in 2020, citing a ruling by the Allahabad high court to ban use of loudspeakers in mosques for azaan
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court on Monday told the state government to clear its stand on the use of loudspeakers for azaan (call of prayer) in mosques. The nudge from the high court came after the government did not respond to a notice issued by the bench earlier.
“You file your reply and clear your stand… Do not adopt dual standards,” the bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and justice Ashutosh Shastri told the state government.
The government had explained that it did not file a response to the affidavit because the petitioner, a Gandhinagar based doctor Dharmendra Prajapati, at a previous hearing told the bench that he wanted to withdraw his petition in view of threats received by him. Prajapati was told to file an affidavit on his request.
On Monday, Gandhinagar Bajrang Dal president Shaktisinh Jhala intervened in the case and requested that the high court continue hearing the case.
In his petition filed in 2020, Dharmendra Prajapati cited a ruling by the Allahabad high court to seek clear orders to the administration to enforce the ban on the use of loudspeakers in mosques for azaan, saying it caused inconvenience and created a disturbance to people, including the elderly and sick people who need to rest as well as students preparing for their exams.
At a previous hearing, Prajapati’s lawyer cited guidelines that restrict the maximum permissible sound limit for loudspeakers at 80 decibels. In contrast, the sound level of loudspeakers in mosques often reached 200 decibels.
Prajapati’s petition complained that he had approached local authorities in the past to seek enforcement of the sound limit but the administration did not act on his grievance.
In 2020, the Allahabad high court allowed the five-time Muslim call to prayers, or azaan, from mosques but said it cannot be amplified using loudspeakers without prior permission of respective district administrations. Azaan is an integral part of Islam, but loudspeakers are not, it added.
Monday’s hearing in the Gujarat high court came against the backdrop of a row over the use of loudspeakers for azaan erupting in several states such as Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana. On Monday, the Maharashtra government decided to make it mandatory for religious places to seek permission to use loudspeakers.