PROSECUTION PROCEDURE IN NOISE POLLUTION CASES
Raghav Parthasarathy, Teaching Associate, CEERA, NLSIU
Noise Pollution in India has been on the rise, due to increase in vehicular, industrial and other activities. There are certain specified limits of noise that can be tolerated by an individual. The Noise Pollution Regulation, 2000 is the law prevailing for this area. In case of any noise is created which causes annoyance, discomfort and injury then a complaint may be filed with various authorities including Police, Central and State Pollution Control Board, District Magistrate. Whereas Courts including the District Magistrate and National Green Tribunal have been constituted. In this brief note, an attempt is made to ascertain the various powers, procedure and actions that can be taken to reduce noise pollution.
LEGAL PROVISIONS REGARDING CONTROL OF NOISE POLLUTION
- Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Noise is considered as public nuisance under Section 268 of the Indian Penal Code and thus, there is a criminal liability of a person relating to his illegal omission resulting in common injury, danger or annoyance to the people in general. The acts of public nuisance have been made punishable under Section 290 of the Indian Penal Code which provides that whoever commits a public nuisance in any case not otherwise punishable by the Code shall be punished with the fine which may extend to two hundred rupees. Chapter XIV of India Penal Code deals with offences relating to the public health, safety, convenience, decency, and morals under sections 268, 269, 270, 278, 279, 280, 287, 288, 290, 291, and 294. Sections 188, 295, 296, 337, 399, 441, 425, 426, 503, noise pollution can be penalized with the help of above sections. The solutions to noise pollution may be characterized as private or public remedies.
- Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Section 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, can be invoked to prevent pollution of all kinds including the Noise Pollution. Executive Magistrates have been authorised to issue certain conditional orders.
- Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 – As per this Act, Section 16(2)(6) of the Air Act, the Board can plan and cause nation wide programme for prevention, control or abatement of air pollution.
- Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 – Section 15 – Penalty for Contravention of the Provisions of the Act and the Rules, Orders and Directions.
- Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 –
- Rule 6 – Consequences of any violation in silence zone / area.
PROCEDURE FOR PROSECUTION
- Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has issued a Notification dated 28th March, 2014 issuing directions under Section 31(A) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 read with Rule 20(A) of Karnataka Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1983.
- Responsibility as to enforcement of noise pollution control measures –
- Information to Police – Any person may make a complaint to the Authority including Officer authorised by the Central Government, State Government, District Magistrate, Police Commissioner or any other officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Under Rule 7 of the Noise Pollution Rules, if there is any violations imposed during the night time, a complaint may be made to the authorities as mentioned above.
- Under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 of the Government of Karnataka has issued directions to the Director General of Police, the Commissioner of Police in the cities of Bangalore, Mysore, Gulbarga, Belagavi and Hubli-Dharwad and other officers of the Home Department not below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police to take action against the persons who violate the standards prescribed in the schedule through the use of loud speaker/sirens/public address system or other modes of creating noise between 6 AM to 10 PM to 6 AM and to prosecute them under Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Upon receiving the information about any violations of noise pollution, the Station House Officer (SHO) should reach the spot immediately and request the nearest jurisdictional regional environmental officer to reach the location.
- Upon receiving the Information about any violations, the State Pollution Control Board or any other officer shall set the criminal law into motion, as the authorized officer shall himself become the Complainant and cannot merely act as a middlemen. Since, the officer has been designated and authorized for this purpose, he/she shall initiate the prosecution against such offenders.
- Preparation of Report and Action – Based on the Information received by the Officer in Charge of Police Station, upon Complaint, any action may be taken to prohibit and prevent annoyance, disturbance, discomfort or injury and risk of annoyance,, to the public at large. The Authority concerned may pass an order in writing preventing, prohibiting, controlling or regulating the incidence or continuance of any nuisance causing Noise pollution.
- The Authorities also have the power to ensure that the rules are not being violated and record the reading of the noise level on a noise decibel meter and turn off the noise emitting device. Further, there are powers to seize the equipment used to creating noise; stopping the use of microphone or loudspeaker and also may obtain the permission in writing from the Pollution Control Board to prohibit noise.
- Investigation and collection of samples – The Environment Protection Act, 1986 provides for collection of samples under Section 11, wherein the Central Government or any officer authorized for the purpose of analysis, sample of air, water, soil or other substances from factory, premises or other places. The results from such sample collection is valid and admissible in courts of law as Evidence under the Indian Evidence Act. The person collecting the sample shall serve on the occupier of the premises, a notice of such collection and subsequent analysis of the sample. The sample so collected shall be placed in a container and sealed and signed by the person collecting the sample and that of the occupier, who was at the time so identified. In the absence of occupier or his agents, the sample shall be taken and signed only by the one collecting it.
- Once the sample is collected, the same shall be marked and sealed in a contained to a laboratory recognized under Section 12 or Section 13 of the Environment Protection Act.
- Role of Pollution Control Board – The Pollution Control Board can be directly approached with regard to violations of Noise Pollution Regulations and the Pollution Control Board has the power to issue an order in writing to prevent, prohibit and control the noise emanated through any vocal or instrumental music; sounds caused due to playing, beating, clashing, blowing or from the usage of loudspeakers, horns, firecrackers, and even from business operations and trade.
- The points as referred to above are based on the Criminal law remedies available to the person aggrieved due to the noise pollution. As per the Government Order dated 13th August, 2002, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board has identified the Police Department as the competent authority to regulate Noise Pollution under the Rules.