Noise pollution regulations in India
I own a marriage hall and have functions organised throughout the marriage season. Evidently there is a lot of noise and music which runs late into midnight. The families also burst a lot of crackers and play DJ music rather loudly. The neighbours surrounding the area, have raised objection to all this and have threatened to sue me. Will they succeed?
Your neighbour can sue you successfully for infringing his right to life. The use of fire crackers is not prohibited absolutely. But if fire crackers emit noise beyond 90 decibel level and is continued to burst past the 10pm deadline, the person doing so will be legally liable.
Under Rule 5 of the Noise Pollution Regulation and Control) Rules, 2002, one needs to obtain permission from the officer in charge of the police to use loud speakers. And except during cultural or general festive seasons, (which should not be more than 15 days at a stretch), one cannot use loudspeakers. The Hon’ Supreme Court of India, has permitted the use of loudspeakers during such general or festive seasons can only be done with the express permission of the state government in Implementation of the Laws for Restricting the Use of Loudspeakers v Union Of India. No loudspeaker shall be permitted without the express permission of the prescribed officer appointed by the State Government.
Besides the 2002 Rules, loud noise (that is usually accompanied in marriage celebrations can always be argued by your neighbour to constitute Public Nuisance under Section 268 of the Indian Penal Code. According to this section any person committing any act which causes a “common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity” will be liable for public nuisance. The fact that the same act causes benefit to some people, would not reduce the illegality of this act. On being found guilty the first time, the accused would be liable to pay a fine of only Rs. 200. But if the person continues to commit this nuisance he would be liable for “Continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue” under S. 291. And if the accused is found guilty he could be liable for simple imprisonment (that may extend to six months).
Please note that in number of decisions of the Supreme Court and High Court, the courts have recognised the following as indicators to label an action as nuisance. According to an old case, if the noise is constant, causes one physical discomfort, disturbs one’s sleep, the act would be deemed to constitute a public nuisance.
Since, you own a marriage hall, where there is marriages and celebrations and use of loudspeakers for days after day, if you do not take effort to stop the use of loudspeakers beyond 10pm (until 6am), your neighbour shall be successful in suing you and claiming a hefty compensation as supported by the Hon’ Supreme Court of India in Forum, Prevention of Environment and Sound Pollution v Union of India.
 (2005) 6 SCC 109
 Clause 5(3) of the Noise Pollution (Regulations and Control) (Amendment) Rules, 2002
 Section 290 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
Hon’ Madras High Court in Dhanna Lal v Chittar Singh, A.I.R. 1959 M.P. 240
 AIR 2005 SC 3136
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