BALDEV BAND Vs. UNION OF INDIA
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
UNION OF INDIA
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(1.)THESE petitions are filed by the proprietors of bands who use trolleys fitted with loudspeakers for use in marriage processions and similar processions. The other petitioners are allegedly working on the said trolleys and they earn their livelihood on the same. The petition was filed on the basis of a news item published on 13 -5 -1982 and an announcement in T. V. and radio that the Police Commissioner has banned the movement of trolleys fitted with loudspeakers forming part of marriage processions with crooners singing film songs. It is claimed in the writ petition that after the said announcement on 16 -5 -1982 such a trolley fitted with loudspeaker belonging to 'Master Band' was seized by the Police. It is the contention of the petitioners that playing of music on the loudspeakers fitted on trolleys is done with the intention of 'relaxation and glamour' and has become a social and customary practice for marriage celebrations. It is then claimed that the trolleys are too small to cause any obstruction, inconvenience or nuisance to traffic on the roads. As far the legal submissions, it is contended that Section 28 (1) (b) of the Delhi Police Act, 1978, is ultra vires as it gives unguided arbitrary powers to Police authorities to prevent the use of loudspeakers. It is also urged that the said section unreasonably restricts the right to carry on the trade/profession of bands (wherein trolleys fitted with loudspeakers are used), and thereby violates Art.19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. It is also contended that the order in question has not been published in the official gazette, as required by the Act and, therefore, the order is bad in law. The order, according to the petitioners is not legal also, for another reason, namely, that it was not published in the concerned localities as required by the Act.
(2.)THE respondents on the other hand submit that the powers under Section 28 are necessary in public interest and were not arbitrary. The impugned order, it is contended, was the result of (public complaints and) the experience of the Police in regard to use of loudspeakers. It is also contended that on 12 -5 -1982 the Commissioner of Police issued instructions to all the District Commissioners of Police directing them that no permission for use of loudspeakers on trolleys/moving vehicles should be granted in future. These instructions were not addressed to the public but were only the departmental instructions. It is claimed in the counter -affidavit that the directions were issued in exercise of the powers conferred by the Delhi Police Act and Regulations in that regard. These Regulations are called Union Territory of Delhi Loudspeakers (Licensing and Controlling) Regulations, 1980. The respondents further submit that there is no prohibition on the band being played on the public streets. There is no fundamental right in the petitioners to use trolleys fitted with loudspeakers in the band. It is then pointed out by the respondents that pursuant to the said Regulations the petitioners ought to have obtained the prior permission to use the trolleys with loudspeakers but none of them had obtained the permission and are carrying on their business illegally. It is then stated that the assertion that thousands of persons are losing their livelihood made in the petition is unfounded as the business of running a band is not prohibited by the impugned order. It is then claimed that a restriction on few people so as to achieve the general public interest would be a reasonable restriction.
(3.)I do not think that any fundamental right of the petitioners is violated. There is a right to carry on the business or trade of a band. Even this right can be curtailed or regulated for an appropriate time or an appropriate place or generally. Some trades/business have a potentiality of being abused easily when they become danger to public peace, tranquillity and order and create public nuisance, inconvenience and hazard to normal social life. Right to carry on trade in liquor can be said to be one belonging to this category. If there is a restriction that there cannot be a country liquor shop in the residential areas or near a school or in the public place of entertainment the restrictions/ preventions are really in public interest. Right to carry on trade, which can be called a fundamental right is not here directly threatened in this case. Even assuming that running of a band is a fundamental right to carrying on trade and business, it cannot be said that there is a fundamental right in the use of every instrument in the band or the vehicles used or the number of loudspeakers used to make the band more loud than it normally is. Every trade/profession gives livelihood to some people. Even smuggling and dealing in narcotics provide livelihood to some people. It is therefore, no argument in law that some people who are allegedly used for pushing the trolleys will suffer because to use the trolleys in a band is itself not a fundamental right. I do not think that Section 28 (1) (b) can be faulted on the ground that it violates Art.19 (1) (g) of the Constitution.
Even assuming that the right to carry on trade/business of band includes the use of vehicles and the instruments like loudspeakers for increasing the sound I would hold that prevention of the use of trolleys fitted with loudspeakers in public processions is in public interest and reasonable. The question has to be viewed from several angles. The first is phenomenal increase of population in Delhi in last twenty years. Increase of population is about three lacs every year. The increase in population has resulted in phenomenal increase of vehicular traffic on the streets. The real difficulty in the traffic in Delhi is that there are not only fast moving vehicles, such as cars and buses but very slow moving vehicles such as cycle rickshaws and hand driven carts moving side by side with the high speed vehicles. Due to concentration of industries and thermal power stations there is air pollution and sound pollution which has increased to dangerous proportions. Vehicular traffic substantially adds persistently to air pollution and sound pollution. The increase in incidents of accidents on the streets with high mortality figures published every year, shows how movement of pedestrians and vehicles is becoming increasingly hazardous. Delhi was a comparatively clean city with big roads and sparse population providing peaceful and quiet life to its residents thirty years back. Even according to the petitioners use of loudspeakers in bands fitted on moving trolleys has come up in the last 15 years. The hazards to public safety, health and tranquillity has brought about a sea of change during the last twenty years. If by public apathy or by the official negligence such use of trolleys with loudspeakers was allowed to continue, it cannot be an argument against its prohibition after twenty years. Marriage processions stopping at different corners for people to dance with a deafening band music is a regular sight for the residents of Delhi. The public attitude is very peculiar. If a person is going in a vehicle and there is obstruction because of the marriage procession he will shout or call names. But if he is moving with the marriage procession he will participate in the dance to the tune of the band and will forget that he is obstructing the traffic and movement of vehicles on a public street. If there is self regulation there will be no necessity of any law in this area of public participation. The public failure on self -discipline requires the authorities. such as Police Authorities to take the preventive steps. Loudspeakers on moving trolleys is a diversion of mind for a driver driving a vehicle on the crowded streets. Traffic accidents can be averted if the faculties of mind of the drivers of the vehicles are composed and alert. Driving is a great tension on number of roads and particularly the busy periods of the day.
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