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The PIL filed by BJP MP from Barrackpore Arjun Singh states that Azaan, which is a call for congregation, is inn violation of COVID-19 guidelines.
A PIL has been filed before the Calcutta High Court by BJP MP from West Bengal's Barrackpore constituency Arjun Singh, seeking a ban on the use of loudspeakers for Azaan (Islamic call to prayer) on the ground that it violates COVID-19 guidelines (Arjun Singh v. State of West Bengal and Anr).
Singh's plea prays for a direction for the state government and concerned authorities to ensure that the use of loudspeakers for Azaan is stopped and banned in the state.
In light of the worsening situation of the pandemic in West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government recently extended the lockdown in the state till July 31, the petitioner points out while making his case.
Having said so, the PIL submits that at various mosques in the state, loudspeakers are mounted on the minarets through which the Azaan is called out five times a day. These loudspeakers are often very loud and can transmit the sound as far as 5 kilometres, it is added. Sometimes Azaan from two or more mosques even overlap.
However, this call for Azaan, especially through loudspeakers, is in violation of COVID-19 guidelines, the BJP MP contends, arguing further that an Azaan is a "call for the congregation to offer prayers at a Mosque".
It is added in the PIL that while loudspeakers are used by mosques for this purpose, other religious groups refrained from using any type of amplifiers or loudspeakers for religious festivals during the pandemic.
Besides calling Azaan a violation of COVID-19 guidelines, the plea also invokes the Noise Pollution Rules, which provide that loudspeakers or any amplifying instruments cannot be used without obtaining permission from concerned authorities, especially during night hours.
The Rules provide that no loud sound can be transmitted between 10 PM and 6 AM and a limited relaxation to this rule is provided for during festivals and events, the PIL further details.
Moreover, the fundamental right under Article 21 is also sought to be invoked by the petitioner who says that "noise pollution beyond the permissible limit is hazardous which violates the fundamental rights of citizens." Referring to the early morning Azaan calls, the petition says,
It is averred that use of loudspeakers and microphones affects is a threat to public health and, therefore, the use of these loudspeakers for Azaan must be stopped.
The petition has been filed through Advocate Vikash Singh from R Singh and Associates.