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Amend the order - a letter - The Pioneer

Syed Shahabuddin ()
7 December 1996

Title : Amend the order - a letter
Author : Syed Shahabuddin
Publication : The Pioneer
Date : December 7, 1996

This has reference to a Press report regarding the ban
imposed by the Calcutta High Court pm the use of the
public announcement system for Azaan. Unless this order
is amended, the ban would be applicable throughout the
country. It is, therefore, necessary to approach the High
Court for a review of the judgement by a full bench and
then, if necessary, approach the Supreme Court for quash-
ing it.

To my mind, the basic point is that while the use of the
Public announcement system in puja pandals, and even
ordinarily in temples, is continuous and thereby consti-
tutes environmental pollution, Azaan is limited to two to
three Minutes per prayer, that is, a total of 15 minutes
every day. Second, for the congregational prayer, the
microphone level can be adjusted so as to limit its reach
to the interior of the mosque. Even though Azaan for
three prayers-Zuhr, Asr and Maghrib-takes place at a time
when the average noise level is very high and the Azaan
can hardly add to it. The other side may argue do case
against Azaan for Fajr and Isha. This question had
arisen in the 1980s in Pun and 1 had told the then Gover-
nor of Maharashtra that in case there is a general ban on
the use of public announcement system in the hours before
dawn and after sunset, the Muslim community would also
abide by it. Azaan for Isha is generally around eight pm
and therefore, normal municipal restrictions would not
apply because they are applicable after 10 pm.

Even for Fajr prayer there would be no objection if the
mosque is situated in a Muslim locality; only if it is in
a mixed locality there may be some objection. I request
Dr Maqbool ahmed to consult Justice K M Yusuf and formu-
late a suitable memorandum on behalf of the Mushawarat
and submit it jointly with the heads of all Muslim organ-
isations in West Bengal to the Chief Minister of the
State and request him to ask for a review of the High
Court order. If the Government of West Bengal is unable
to or unwilling to be so, a review petition may have to
be filed by the Muslim community.

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