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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Loudspeaker use in mosques not a fundamental right, says Allahabad High Court

The court makes the observation while dismissing a petition challenging a December 2021 order by the Bisauli subdivisional magistrate that rejected a request to use a loudspeaker for giving azaan.

By: Express News Service | Lucknow |
Updated: May 7, 2022 6:35:21 am
In May 2020, the high court held that though azaan might be an essential and integral part of Islam, giving the call to prayer through loudspeakers or other sound-amplifying devices could not be said to be an integral part of the religion. In pic, policemen patrol outside a mosque in Mumbai.(AP Photo)

The Allahabad High Court has remarked that “the law has now been settled” that the use of loudspeakers in mosques is not protected by fundamental rights.

The court made the observation on Wednesday while dismissing a petition filed by Irfan, a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Budaun district, who wanted it to quash a December 2021 order by the Bisauli subdivisional magistrate that rejected a request to use a loudspeaker in a mosque for giving azaan (call to prayer).

“The law has now been settled that the use of loudspeakers from mosques is not a fundamental right. Even otherwise, a cogent reason has been assigned in the impugned order. Accordingly, we find that the present petition is patently misconceived, hence the same is dismissed,” said a bench of Justices Vivek Kumar Birla and Vikas Budhwar observed.

Sachin Kumar Sharma, the petitioner’s lawyer, argued that the magistrate’s order violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner to use a loudspeaker in a mosque.

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In May 2020, the high court held that though azaan might be an essential and integral part of Islam, giving the call to prayer through loudspeakers or other sound-amplifying devices could not be said to be an integral part of the religion warranting the fundamental rights protection enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution, which is even otherwise subject to public order, morality or health and other provisions of Part III of the Constitution.

The court was ruling on pleas filed by Ghazipur MP Afzal Ansari, Congress leader Salman Khurshid and lawyer S Wasim A Qadri, who challenged the orders of the Ghazipur, Farrukhabad and Hathras administrations directing mosques to stop using loudspeakers for giving azaan as part of Covid-19 curbs.

A division bench of Justices Shashi Kant Gupta and Ajit Kumar had then said the call to prayer could be given from the mosque minarets using human voice, without the help of any amplifying device. It directed the district administrations not to cause hindrance unless such guidelines are being violated. The state government has so far removed more than 50,000 loudspeakers from religious places and reduced the volume of more than 60,000 others.

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