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States have to declare silence zones: Centre


MUMBAI: The Centre on Tuesday told the Bombay High Court it supports silence zones but it is for state governments to declare them in view of the recent amendment to Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000.

 Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, with advocate Sandesh Patil, was replying to challenges to the constitutional validity of the August 10, 2017 amendment which states no area can be a silence zone unless notified by the state government. In August 2016, the HC held areas not less than 100 meters around all hospitals, educational institutions, courts and religious places are deemed silence zones and there is no need for a specific declaration.
Singh, replying to a full bench of Justices Abhay Oka, Anoop Mohta and Riyaz Chagla, said, “There ha ve to be silence zones. We provided for it. But it has to be prepared by state governments as the situation is different in different parts of the country.”
Senior advocate Anil Anturkar, representing petitioner Ajay Marathe, ar gued for a stay on the amendment saying it violates rights to life and equality. He said the amendment is done “to appease those who come in a group and do anything” and petitioners “represent those who are afraid to even come to this court.” “Their fundamental rights are required to be protected by this court,” he urged. Senior advocate S M Gorwadkar, for petitioner Dr Mahesh Bedekar, said the amendment “gives power to the state government to do away with silence zones”. Intervener Awaaz Foundation’s advocate Birendra Saraf said if the amendment affects the over 1,500 silence zones in Mumbai then it is “ultra vires of the Environment Protection Act.” The hearing will continue on Friday.

In a related case, a division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Riyaz Chagla ended the controversy over the state government’s allegation that Justice Oka is biased against it. It accepted the government’s “unconditional apology”. Advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni informed he also tendered an apology to Chief Justice Manjula Chellur “on behalf of the entire state government and even personally”. “We asked for pardon and expressed remorse,” he said.


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