The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday expressed displeasure over the increasing noise pollution caused by modified silencers of motorcycles and the violation of the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act.
A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Abdul Moin passed this order while hearing a suo motu PIL on noise pollution through modified silencers. The Court said that the problem of noise pollution is like the legend of Hydra where anyone who attempted to behead the Hydra found that as soon as one head was cut off, two more heads would emerge from the fresh wound, so much so that the destruction of the Hydra became one of the 12 labors of Hercules.
A Division Bench of the High Court in the case of Moti Lal Yadav Vs. State of UP and others has already taken note of the noise pollution being caused by the loudspeakers.
The Court held that the State Government also stepped in and did its effort in bringing out a Government order dated January 04, 2018, for controlling the blatant misuse of loudspeakers. The said Public Interest Litigation is still pending before the Court.
“As soon as the menace of sound pollution through loudspeakers was somewhat controlled, the Hydra of noise pollution again reared its ugly head and now the noise pollution is being experienced through the modified mufflers on the silencers of two-wheelers more particularly Bullets and other new era two-wheelers which are speeding on the streets of the state capital. The vehicle riders have modified the noise mufflers/silencers so much so that a vehicle being driven can be heard hundreds of meters away whereby causing immense discomfort to the old, aged, and infirm persons as well as young children and other persons who may require silence,” the Court said.
“A plain reading of Section 52 along with Section 190 (2) of the Act, 1988 indicates that no motor vehicle owner can alter the vehicle at variance with the original specified by the manufacturer. Moreover, any person who drives a motor vehicle in any public place which violates the standards prescribed in relation to control of the noise shall be liable to a penalty as specified under Section 190 (2) of the Act, 1988. Thus, in case a person is modifying the silencer of the two-wheelers or the vehicle is being driven by him by removing or altering the noise muffler, he would be liable for action under the provisions of Section 190 (2) of the Act, 1988,” the Court observed.
Rule 120 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (hereinafter referred to as “Rules, 1989”) provides that every motor vehicle shall be fitted with a silencer to reduce, as far as practicable, the noise of the engine that would otherwise be made by the escape of exhaust gases from the engine. Further, noise standard has also been specified in Rule 120 (2) of Rules, 1989 which provides that every motor vehicle shall be constructed and maintained so as to conform to noise standards specified in part (E) of Schedule VI of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 (hereinafter referred as Rules, 1986). Part E of the Rules, 1986 clearly specifies that the noise limits for automobiles (free field distance at 7.5 meters) in dB (A) at the manufacturing stage for motorcycles and scooters is 80 DB (A). With effect from 01.04.2005, so far as two¬wheelers are concerned, the range of the noise limits of scooter and motorcycle ranges from 75 to 80 dB (A). Thus, once at the manufacturing stage itself, the total limits of the noise of two-wheelers is restricted to 80 dB (A), then, by modifying the silencer or by removing the mufflers and interfering with the silencers, the noise limits cannot exceed 80 dB (A).
The Court may also observe that the plea could be taken by bike riders that the Act, 1988 may not be applicable on foreign motorcycles as they are not manufactured in India. Such bikes could fall in the category of being Harley Davidson, Hyosung, UN Commando, Suzuki Intruder, Big Dog, Norton Commando, etc.
However, the Court clarified that the excuse merits rejection taking into consideration the Rules, 2000 which are applicable for all vehicular movement and not restricted to Indian-made vehicles and bikes alone. Here it would be pertinent to mention that as per information available on the website of “Roanoke.com”, the Harley Davidsons have got a noise level of dB (A) of 100 with no muffler and thus the noise being caused by such imported two-wheelers/bikes can very well be understood.
The Court held that, from a perusal of Section 52 and Section 190 (2) of the Act, 1988, Rule 3 of the Rules, 2000 and Rule 120 of the Rules, 1989, it is thus apparent that movement of such two-wheelers or other vehicles after removal or modification of the noise mufflers or modifying the silencers of such vehicles which causes immense noise pollution as well as inconvenience to the citizen is a matter of grave concern which at the outset should have been looked into and addressed and redressed by the authorities concerned. However, once the authorities have not cared to look into the matter, it is for the Court to take notice of the noise pollution being caused through the vehicles and thus the Court takes notice of the aforesaid noise pollution.
The Court called upon Pankaj Srivastava, Additional Chief Standing Counsel, to assist the Court in the matter who has also expressed his anxiety in the matter and has assured of coming back with some concrete proposals to address the issue.
Let the office register this matter as a Public Interest Litigation in the matter of ” Noise pollution through modified silencers (Suo moto) (P.I.L) Vs. State of U.P and Others, the Court said.
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“Let the State authorities look into the matter and take strict action in accordance with law and crack down on such vehicles causing pollution through modified silencers.
Let a copy of the order be sent to (1) Principal Secretary (Department of Transport), Government of U.P, Lucknow (II) Principal Secretary, Department of Home, Government of U.P, Lucknow (iii) Director General of Police, Lucknow (IV) Chairman, State Pollution and Control Board, U.P, Lucknow and (V) Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Lucknow who shall also be treated as respondents in this petition.
Let this Public Interest Litigation be listed before the appropriate Court dealing with Public Interest Litigation matters after three weeks i.e on August 10, 2021, as fresh on which date, personal affidavits of all the respondents shall be filed indicating the action which has been taken against such vehicles causing noise pollution through the modified silencer,” the order reads.