Finally, in 1992, in P.A. Jacob v. The Superintendent of Police,35 the Kerala High Court asked a Christian group not to use loudspeakers. To support this order, the Court stated that such an act by the group would disrupt the law and order of society and might be inconvenient for the other members of society. The petitioners in this case had claimed “freedom of speech and expression.” The Court held “recognition of the right of speech and expression is recognition accorded to human faculty. A right belongs to human personality and not to a mechanical device.”36 Relying on various scientific studies that showed the impact of noise on human beings, the Court held “the compulsory exposure of unwilling persons to high noise level would amount to a clear infringement of their constitutional guarantee of right to life under Art. 21. The right to a safe environment, including safe air quality and noise level, is implicit in the right to life guaranteed according to Art. 21 of our Constitution.”37 This case was the first time that the Court came forward and reprimanded a religious institute for violating the right to life. The Court further explained the reciprocal duties of rights in Indian society (i.e., if one wants to avail the right, he or she has to follow the duties that come along with it). This idea was also followed in Church of God,38 wherein the Supreme Court stood against the practice of beating drums and use of loudspeakers early in the morning in places of worship: No religion prescribes or preaches that prayers are required to be performed through voice amplifiers or by
need arises and to limit the use of loudspeakers to certain hours. The Court further directed the Delhi government to restrict the use of firecrackers in religious festivals, marriages, processions, etc.
The journal of the University of Oregon Environmental Studies Program