Karnataka High Court refuses to ban prayer calls at mosques, cites freedom of religion

Source: ENS | Published on 23rd August 2022, 3:41 PM | State News | Don't Miss |

Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court Monday disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL) that raised objections to azan (prayer calls) at mosques and their content, citing the right to freedom of religion which is enshrined in India’s Constitution.

The court, however, directed the state government to ensure that loudspeakers and public address systems are not permitted to be used above permissible decibel levels during the night, from 10 pm to 6 am.

The PIL was filed by a Bengaluru citizen Chandrashekhar R seeking a halt of azan at mosques in Karnataka citing the alleged use of objectionable words and the seizure of loudspeakers and amplifiers used for prayer calls.

A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S Vishwajit Shetty pointed out that “Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India embodies the principle of religious toleration which is a characteristic of Indian Civilization”.

“Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India confers a fundamental right on all persons to freely profess, practice, and propagate their own religion. However, the aforesaid right is not an absolute right but is subject to restrictions on the grounds of public order, morality, and health, as well as subject to other provisions in Part III of the Constitution,” the bench said.

“Undoubtedly, the petitioner, as well as believers of other faiths, have the right to practice their religion,” the bench said.

The “azan or adhan is a call to offer prayers. However, the contention that the contents of azan or adhan violate the fundamental right guaranteed to the petitioner as well persons of other faiths cannot be accepted,” the court observed.

“It is also pertinent to note that it is not the case of the petitioner himself that his fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India is being infringed in any manner by calling of azan or adhan through loudspeakers or public address systems,” the court added.

It asked the authorities to ensure that they are used within the confines of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, read with Section 37 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963.

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