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Feb. 12, 2024   •   Ritu Sharma

Student's Pen  


Both before and after India's independence, the topic of religion has been exceedingly contentious. Indian secularism differs from the traditional Western conception of secularism in that it holds that the state should not have its own religion, that there should be no favour for any religion, and that it should turn a blind eye to the religion of the individual. It rather strives to preserve heterogeneity than to attain homogeneity. Without any preference or discrimination, all religions are equally protected by the Constitution. To put this belief into practice Articles 25 to 28 are solely devoted to the protection of the fundamental right to "freedom of religion," which has been protected.

We in India are subjected to noises that are typical of most nations, but we also have to deal with loudspeaker abuse during celebrations like religious festivals and everyday prayer ceremonies that are strictly forbidden in most nations. In this paper, we will see whether the right to religion confers unlimited power on the citizens to practice their religion.


All Indians have the right to religious freedom under Article 25 of the Constitution. It states that everyone in India, subject to laws governing public morals, health, and other matters, have the same rights to religious freedom, including the ability to profess, practice, and spread their religion. The state cannot, except when a religious practice is not essential to the religion, legislate or interfere in any other manner, to any religious practice.

In Tilkayat Shri Govindlalji Maharaj V. State of Rajasthan[1], the Supreme Court ruled that the standard for determining what constitutes an essential component of a religion is whether or not the community that practices that religion views it as essential. In contrast to the American Constitution, the Indian Constitution guarantees a clear and unambiguous right to religious freedom. This privilege is meant to prevent religion from influencing public policy or state objectives. The constitution actually calls for a secular form of government. The Indian Constitution, according to the Supreme Court, places a strong emphasis on the idea of secularism. Therefore, the government cannot meddle in religious matters, including the purchase of land.

Additionally, it forbids the imposition of religious taxes. The right to exercise one's religion is guaranteed by Article 25, but only if it complies with public order. This excludes engaging in religious rites in public spaces or offering sacrifice animals. Additionally, the court determined that there is no constitutional ban on studying religious philosophy.

ARTICLE 25 of Indian Constitution

According to Article 25 (1) of the Indian Constitution, "All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice, and propagate religion," subject to public order, morality, and health as well as the other provisions of this Part. This means that all citizens of India are entitled to the aforementioned rights as long as they don't conflict with laws governing public morality, health, or other matters.

Article25 (2): Nothing in this article shall interfere with the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from enacting any legislation that (a) regulates or restricts any economic, financial, political, or other secular activity that may be connected to religious practise; (b) provides for social welfare and reform; or (c) opens Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.This means that in order to control and restrict the financial, political, economic, and other secular activities linked with religions, the state may either modify the application of existing law(s) or enact new law(s).

Restrictions on Article 25

Fundamental rights pertaining to Religion are covered in Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. Furthermore, Article 26 explains that the right to religious freedom is not unqualified. Absolute religious freedom does not exist.

  1. In the purpose of maintaining public order, promoting public health, and other legitimate situations, the state may use its authority to impose religious restrictions.
  2. Article 25 does not allow the right to convert someone to one's own religion. Forcible conversions are prohibited as everyone has the right to "freedom of conscience".
  3. This rule prohibits anyone from carrying out religious rites or offering animal sacrifices in a busy street or other public area in a way that upsets other people.
  4. Under Article 25, it was forbidden to use loudspeakers, voice amplification devices, firecrackers, or drums in mosques or temples. The Supreme Court had examined the usage of firecrackers for religious events and set time limits on when they might be set off.

The Doctrine of Essential Religious Practices

Necessary religious practise test is a doctrine created by the Supreme Court (SC) to protect only such religious practises under fundamental rights, which are essential and integral to religion. The "Right to Freedom of Religion" is protected under Articles 25 through 28 of India's 1950 Constitution, according to which the government must maintain objectivity toward people's religious convictions and property.

The Supreme Court has created a criteria to assess whether any religious practise is lawful by taking into account whether it is "essential" to that religion. The "Essential Religious Practices Test" is the name given to the test (ERP Test). The Supreme Court has characterized the ERP test as a method of determining what is required for a religious practice and what is merely superstitious. For the purpose of public order, morals, or health, the government is permitted to impose restrictions on activities related to fundamental religion under Article 25(1). Churches, mosques, and other places of worship were shut down by the government during the pa

Test to determine Essential Religious Practice

The supreme court noted in the 1983 case of Acharya Jagadishwarananda Avaduta v. Commissioner of Police Calcutta[2] that the protection provided by Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution extends to actions taken in furtherance of religion and, as a result, contains a guarantee for rituals, observances, ceremonies, and modes of worship that are fundamental or integral parts of religion. According to the ruling of the court, "what constitutes an integral or essential aspect of religion has to be determined with regard to its doctrines, practises, principles, historical context, etc. of the given religion."

The Acharya Jagadishwarananda Avaduta case established test for determining whether a practise or portion of a practise is fundamental to a religion is to evaluate if the character of the religion will alter in the absence of that practise or part. The court stated that a section could be regarded as an essential or integral part "where the removal of that part or practise could result in a fundamental change in the character of that religion or in its beliefs." Such a portion cannot be altered because it is the basic foundation of that religion and changes would affect its essential characteristics. Such enduring basic components are safeguarded by the Constitution.

Noise Pollution: Relation With Indian Constitution And Religion

We frequently come across the words "noise" and "sound" in our daily lives. We employ them without understanding their true significance .A vast area can be affected by noise pollution. discussing one such issue, the relationship between the right to religious freedom and noise pollution management under the Indian Constitution.

The Courts have noted that Articles 25 and 26 are not unqualified and are subject to limitations. Loudspeaker noise can be restricted in the interest of the general public's health because article 25's right to practise and propagate religion also relates to health. In Shri Sugan Chand Aggarwal v. Govt[3]. (NCT of Delhi), a case involving the Free Legal Aid Cell, the Delhi High Court stated that noise "can well be regarded as a pollutant because it contaminates the environment, causes nuisance, and affects a person's health and would, therefore, offend the right to life, of Article 21 if it exceeds reasonable limits." The Court moreover noted that our judiciary has not yet given the impact of noise on health its full attention.

No right in an organised society can be absolute, according to the ruling in the case of Acharya Maharajshri Narendra Prasadji v. State of Gujarat. The exercise of one's rights must not conflict with the exercise of rights by others. One person's fundamental right could have to coexist in harmony with another person's exercise of a different fundamental right, as well as with the State's reasonable and legal exercise of its powers in accordance with the Directive Principles for the sake of social welfare as a whole. According to the Court, the restriction on the use of loudspeakers did not amount to a restriction on the right to free speech and expression. The use of loudspeakers, on the other hand, constitutes a violation of the right to life, which also includes the right to a clean, pollutant-free environment and to be free from noise. The body may develop a variety of diseases and problems as a result of exposure to unwanted or disruptive noise, as scientific investigations have conclusively demonstrated.

In the case State of Bombay v. Narasu Appa Mali[4] from 1952, the Bombay High Court urged the government to limit the use of loudspeakers for nighttime celebrations of the Ganesh and Navratri festivals. The Court mandated that environmental laws be strictly followed. Nobody can stop a holiday from being celebrated, but the judiciary strictly believed that the festivities' methods must not disturb the neighborhood's peace and tranquillity. Due to the delicate religious sensibilities present in the nation, little was stated or done regarding limiting noise from religious establishments after the Narasu Appa Mali case in the Bombay High Court. The Court has treated the issue of controlling noise in religious institutions with caution and reverence, and the majority of its decisions have been based only on the case's facts, without the Judiciary addressing any component of the religion

The Calcutta High Court was asked to address the noise caused by the use and bursting of firecrackers in the Burrabazar case[5]. Even in the absence of specific legislation for restricting noise producers, the court took a fiercely aggressive stance and imposed harsh regulations on the manufacture, storage, and sale of fireworks. The High Court held that citizens have a right to a decent environment, right to live in peace, right to sleep at night, and right to leisure, all of which are necessary components of the right to life. The High Court based this conclusion on the Constitution, specifically Art. 19(1)(a) read with Art.

In Biranagana, the Court supported the Sub-Divisional Magistrate's authority under Section 34-A of the Police Act 1861 to order a religious organisation to stop using microphones, as doing so might violate individuals' rights to live in peace and quiet.

The Kerala High Court ordered a Christian denomination not to use loudspeakers in P. A. Jacob[6] on the grounds that doing so would undermine public safety and inconvenience other groups of citizens. The Court stated that "recognition of the right of speech and expression is acknowledgment afforded to human faculty," rejecting the petitioners' claim of freedom of speech and expression. A human personality, not a machine, is the owner of a right. The court determined that forcing people to be exposed to high noise levels would clearly violate their constitutionally guaranteed right to life under Art. 21 by citing numerous scientific studies that demonstrate the detrimental effects of noise on humans.

The Supreme Court in Church of God (Full Gospel) in India v K.K.R[7]. Majestic Colony Welfare Assn held that the Court may issue directions in respect of controlling noise pollution even if such noise was a direct result of and was connected with religious activities. In a structured society, obligations to others, particularly neighbours, are correlated with rights. This was underlined in Church of God, where the Apex Court severely criticised the practise of loudspeaker use and drumming in religious settings early in the morning. No religion has this practise prescribed, according to the Supreme Court. In a historic decision, the Court ruled that no religion requires or preaches that prayers must be said aloud or in a manner that disturbs peace and calm. "In a civilised society, actions which disturb old, infirm persons, students, children sleeping in the morning or during the day, or other persons carrying out other activities, cannot be authorised in the name of religion."

"It should not be forgotten that newborns in the communities are equally entitled to enjoy their natural right to sleep in a calm environment," the Court continued. The basic freedom to preach religion was subject to public order, morality, and health, Mr. Justice Shah ruled, rejecting the argument that this order would violate the church's fundamental right under Art. 25. No religion mandates or teaches that prayers must be chanted while using a voice amplifier or a drum.

The argument that just the petitioner was impacted by the fact that one person addressed the Court cannot be rejected. In Sayeed Maqsood Ali v. The State of M. P[8]., a cardiac patient who lived close to an eye hospital, a guest house, and educational facilities complained to the court that the State-run guest-house which hosts many religious functions and various categories of people, was accused of making loud noises. The guesthouse was rented out for weddings and other events throughout the year, and there was constant noise there. Loudspeakers were used at the Dharmashala, where music was played at a very high level, upsetting the petitioner and other residents in the area. The petitioner's objection was upheld by the court, and access to certain public areas was restricted.

The High Court of Kerala in K.R. Raveendran Pillai v Pastor Prince Koshy on 27 July, 2015 ordered that the respondents, a theological seminary, carrying on the prayers in a privately owned prayer hall, would be obliged to follow the Supreme Court directions in regard to noise pollution in its 2005 judgement scrupulously.

The Calcutta High Court has held in the case of Moulana Mufti Syed Mohammed Noorur Rehman Barkati v. State of West BengaL[9] as under: “Accordingly, it cannot be said that for giving Azaans the applicants should be allowed to use microphones in the early hours of the day and that is before 6 o’clock in the morning. Azaan is definitely an integral and essential part of the Muslim religion, but use of microphones is certainly not an integral part of Azaan.”

In re Noise Pollution case, the Supreme Court issued the following guidelines that must be followed to prevent noise pollution committed in the name of a religion: Fireworks: From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., all sound-emitting fireworks are prohibited. Loudspeakers: Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., all sound amplifier use is prohibited, with the exception of public emergencies. Generally speaking: Loudspeakers and other sound amplifiers or equipment that produce noise above the allowable limit shall be subject to seizure and confiscation by the State.


In terms of religious diversity, India is the most varied nation. Being a secular nation, it does not have a state-sponsored religion, and each individual is free to select, practise, share, and even change their religion. However, the Constitution imposes some limitations on these rights, thus they are not unqualified. No one is allowed to act in a way that violates state policy, causes unrest, or fosters intolerance among Indians in the name of their faith. To put it another way, it must be demonstrated that the contested religious practise is not only a vital and necessary component of that specific religion, but also that it does not contravene the broad constitutional norms, particularly the fundamental rights and constitutional morality. The courts have determined that while the practise of Azaan is unquestionably a fundamental and vital component of Islam, the use of microphones is not. It is obvious that a citizen has the right to complain if their basic right to a peaceful night's sleep is violated. Restrictions have been put in place even on Diwali because to the detrimental effects on the level of noise (and air) pollution. Each and every other religious and cultural expression should adhere to the same criteria. The court's orders must be followed, and in order to see them through, a number of meetings with organisations, groups, Ganpati mandaps, and other religious organisations of the authorities must be convened. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., sound-emitting firecrackers are strictly prohibited. It is not essential to set time limits on when color- or light-emitting firecrackers can be set off. No religion ever states to force the reluctant to listen to religious statements, it was said, and using loud speakers cannot be a requirement for performing religious acts. According to the court, the sentence from the newspaper that was quoted accurately described the goals of various religions and their underlying logic. However, the Court defended the Central Government's limited authority to give an exception from the application of the Noise Rules as being within its statutory authority in light of the diversity of cultures and religions in India. State governments are given the authority to issue exemptions, but they must employ this authority responsibly, cautiously, and in the public good.



[1] 1963 AIR 1638, 1964 SCR (1) 561

[2] 1984 AIR 512, 1984 SCR (1) 447

[3] AIR 2001 Delhi 455, 93 (2001) DLT 28, 2001 (60) DRJ 297

[4] AIR 1952 Bom 84, (1951) 53 BOMLR 779, ILR 1951 Bom 775

[5] AIR 1998 Cal 121

[6] AIR 1993 Ker 1

[7] AIR 2000 SC 2773

[8] AIR 2001 MP 220, 2001 (3) MPHT 459

[9] AIR 1999 Cal 15

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