Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court on Friday allowed the ‘Azan’ (call for prayer in Islam) from minarets of the mosques by human voice without using any loudspeakers or amplifying device in three districts of Uttar Pradesh — Ghazipur, Hathras and Farrukhabad — where it had been prohibited by the district administration in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Division Bench of Justice Shashi Kant Gupta and Justice Ajit Kumar gave its ruling on a bunch of pleas, including those of former Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid and Lok Sabha member from Ghazipur, Afzal Ansari, among others through videoconferencing.
The petition had requested for the restoration of fundamental right to religion by asking the court to direct the administration to allow the recitation of the Azan as it did not violate any of the directives issued for controlling the threat of the spread of the COVID-19.
After 10 days, the court in a 27-page order said “Azan can be recited by Muezzin from minarets in mosques without using any amplifying device and the administration is directed not to cause hindrance in the same on the pretext of the Guidelines to contain the pandemic COVID-19 unless such guidelines are being violated,” the court said.
Whether loudspeakers will be allowed inside mosques or not is still open to interpretation. The judges noted the petitioners didn’t plead for use of such devices for Azan and went on to say that “until and unless there is a licence/permission from the authorities concerned under the Noise Pollution Rules, under no circumstances Azan can be recited through sound amplifying devices.”
The order, however, bars loudspeakers, even if allowed, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. “Under no circumstances, loudspeakers or any sound amplifier could be used between 12 midnight and 6 a.m,” stated the order.