Stating that there is no provision for the Maharashtra government to either install or remove loudspeakers, State Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil on Monday made clear that the State government will not make different norms for different communities and that it was up to Central government to make a uniform rule regarding loudspeakers at the national level.
Mr. Walse-Patil was speaking after the all-party meeting convened at the Sahyadri Guest House.
While the main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) boycotted the meet, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) which triggered the controversy, said after the meeting that it remained firm on their May 3 ‘ultimatum’ to the MVA government (of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress) demanding the removal of loudspeakers from mosques.
State Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray, who was also present, said that the issue would be taken up with the Centre and that a delegation of all-party leaders from Maharashtra would go to Delhi to discuss this matter further.
“Since the last few days, some political parties are issuing deadlines to us over removing loudspeakers and demanding that we set regulations on their usage. I had invited key leaders of all political parties to try and find a way out of this matter, but BJP leaders were not present,” said Mr. Walse-Patil.
He said that in the all-party meeting it was decided that the government should take all steps to maintain law and order in the State and work accordingly.
“The Supreme Court had given a decision on the use (regulations) of loudspeakers in 2005. Subsequently, other courts have also given decisions in this regard. Accordingly, the Maharashtra government between 2015-17 came out with some GRs (government resolutions) and circulars on the use of loudspeakers and the permission on its usage including the timings and decibel limits. Based on it, loudspeakers are being used in the State,” said the Home Minister.
He clarified there is no provision where the State government could decide on installing or removing loudspeakers. “Those who have installed loudspeakers and those who use it will have to take care of the regulations already laid by the SC,” he said.
While remarking that the issue of noise pollution caused by loudspeakers was not related to any party or religion, Mr. Aaditya Thackeray, without naming either the MNS or the BJP, said that some parties were trying to make political capital of this issue.
“The meeting was held over noise pollution norms and law and order situation in the State. This is not only a matter of a temple or a mosque but of all religious establishments using loudspeakers,” Mr. Thackeray said.
The controversy was sparked by MNS chief Raj Thackeray earlier this month after he warned Muslim community leaders to take off loudspeakers from mosques used for playing the Azaan (prayer) following which they would be met with loudspeakers playing the Hanuman Chalisa five times a day.
While Mr. Raj Thackeray did not attend the all-party meet, MNS leaders Bala Nandgaonkar, Sandeep Deshpande and Nitin Sardesai were present.
“If the State government remains firm on maintaining loudspeakers, then the MNS, too, remains firm on its deadline of their removal,” said Mr. Nandgaonkar, following the meeting.