Hate noisy neighbours and can’t move – Here’s the solution

Noise Pollution

Author’s Note

All of us have come across noisy neighbours at some point.

With their loud music blasting, you can’t get one job done.

A common problem in India is when neighbours put on their music that pierce the walls of your home be it during the day or at night or when people hold loud functions down your street after 10pm etc.

I have highlighted solutions to deal with noise in your neighbourhood. You just have to gather some courage and raise your voice.

Table of Contents

  1. Legal provisions and redressal mechanisms
  2. Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000
  3. Police Act, 1861
  4. Procedure to complaint against noise pollution
  5. Delhi Police special helpline to curb noise pollution
  6. Remedy under Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)
  7. Tort law and the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
  8. Constitution of India, 1949
  9. Conclusion

Legal provisions and redressal mechanisms

If you have spoken to your neighbour about the same and the noise continues to bother you and if you see no visible change in their behaviour, you must try to notify the owner of their flat/home so that corrective measures can be taken. You can also contact the building supervisor if you live in a housing society. If there is no change in their behaviour then you may try the following redressal mechanisms.

Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000

You may also approach the Central or State Board under Sections 16 and 17 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 which includes noise as an air pollutant. The Rules made under this Act specifically deal with noise pollution.

Rule 5 states that the use of a loudspeaker is not allowed between 10 p.m and 6 a.m and if any person crosses the noise standards of that particular area or zone, one may approach the appropriate authority.[1] If the authority is satisfied with the report given by the police officer, they will look into the issue. They also have the power to prevent your neighbour from carrying out the activity all together, be it his professional practice or religious practice.

The Schedule appended to the Rules 3(1) and 4 (1) give the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise according to the category of the area or zone.

Area Code Category of Area or Zone Limits in dB(A) Leq

Day time Night time
(A) Industrial Area
75 70
(B) Commercial Area
65 55
(C) Residential Area
55 45
(D) Silence Zone
50 40

Rule 8(1) of the act states that if an authority is satisfied by the report of officer in charge about the information given by the complainant which is necessary to prevent the disturbance, annoyance caused to the public or any person in the vicinity , he may by a written order issue directions for preventing, prohibiting:

  1. The continuance of:
    1. any vocal instrument or music,
    2. sounds caused by playing, beating, blowing any instrument including loudspeakers, public address systems, horns, etc.
    3. sound caused by bursting crackers.
  2. carrying on any trade or process resulting in noise.

In the case of Church of God (Full Gospel) in India v. K.K.R. Majestic Colony Welfare Assn[2], the Supreme Court held that the court may give directions to control noise pollution even if the noise is caused due to religious activities.

“Undisputedly, no religion prescribes that prayers should be performed by disturbing the peace of others nor does it preach that they should be through voice amplifiers or beating of drums. In a civilized society in the name of religion, activities which disturb old or infirm persons, students or children having their sleep in the early hours or during daytime or other persons carrying on other activities cannot be permitted.”

Police Act, 1861

If your neighbour is conducting religious processions or holding religious ceremonies in the streets without a license, the police may be informed of the same by dialing 100.

Section 30 of the Police Act states that the District Superintendent or Assistant District Superintendent of Police can direct and control the conduct of processions on the public roads after permission is granted through a special or general notice by the magistrate.

These officers may also stop these processions if there is a breach of license orders disrupting public peace and order as per Section 30A.

Finally, Section 32 of the Act requires that a fine of Rs. 200 must be paid.

Procedure to complaint against noise pollution

  1. Call the Police helpline at 112 and tell them the problem if
    a. the noise is between 10 P.M. and 6 A.M. and is above the legal decibel limit, or
    b. is a persistent noise in the day time due to any unlawful activity such running shows, parades and rallies without due permission or any functions without legal permission.
  2. The noise ceases after the beat constable or the IO asks them to stop in courtesy.
  3. If the noise doesn’t stop, go to their Police Station of appropriate jurisdiction and lodge an FIR asap.
  4. The Police will not investigate and the state will prosecute.

If the noise is persistent, for example from a mill, factory, manufacturing unit, pub, disco, music/dance institute, then the Police may direct the case to the appropriate State Air Pollution Control Board.

Delhi Police special helpline to curb noise pollution

The Delhi Police have launched two helpline numbers in order to curb noise pollution. They are 155270 and 155271 .

You can also visit their website and file a complaint. The procedure is simple. First, go to www.ngms.delhi.gov.in/ and use your mobile number to receive an OTP. Second, select the correct police station and file a complaint.Third, you will receive an email or message and so will the ACP or SDM of the area who will take immediate action.

Remedy under Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)

Section 268 of the Code states that a person will be guilty of public nuisance if he has caused annoyance to the public (in this case, people who dwell in the area). It is no defence that the injury was caused to obtain any advantage.

For example, it is not an excuse if your neighbour is paid to teach children how to play the drums if it disturbs you.

Further, if there is noise after 10 p.m, you may contact the local police and they will give your neighbour a warning.[3] If this does not work you may file a case under Section 290 of the IPC and they will have to pay a fine of Rs. 200.

Tort law and the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

Under the law of torts which are commonly known as civil wrongs, the act or omission of a neighbor that disturbs you, is called nuisance. Nuisance can be divided into public nuisance and private nuisance.[4] The former occurs when the act causes injury to the general public as a whole and the latter refers to when the act causes injury to a particular person and causes special damages. The two may also overlap at times and are not exhaustive in nature. Thus, if your neighbour is being noisy with regard to their religious affairs, they are in fact causing nuisance not only to you but to your entire neighbourhood.

You may file a suit for declaration or injunction under Section 91 of the CPC.

Constitution of India, 1949

Your neighbour is also violating Article 21 (Right to Life) by not allowing you to sleep.

Although Article 25 of the constitution states that one can profess their religion freely, only essential religious practices can be followed without any limitation or bar.[5] This is subjective to each religion but it is very clear that disturbing your neighbours through loud religious affairs does not constitute an essential religious practice.

Conclusion

Noisy neighbours are usually tolerated in India especially when it comes to religious affairs or parades etc as it is a sensitive issue. Most of us also wish to maintain a good relationship with our neighbours and refrain from taking action.

However, if your daily life and functioning is getting affected adversely because of your noisy neighbours, you must do something about it.

  1. Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, Rule 7.
  2. AIR 2000 SC 2773
  3. DNA India, Don’t make noise after 10 p.m, https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-don-t-make-any-noise-after-10pm-1334980.
  4. Lambton v. Mellish, (1894) 3 Ch 163.
  5. The Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras v. Shri Lakshmindar Thirtha Swamiyar of Shri Shirur Mutt,1954 AIR 282.

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Comments (6)

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Disgruntled Bangalorean

There is constant noise around the apartment i live in. Construction noise when it is obvious there is no construction going on, loud annoying children, loud street hawkers who go up and down the road throughout the day with sometimes equal intervals of time (other times random), loud talkative people, somehow everyone seems to have a cough or cold for most part of the day (and sometimes the night) even before the whole COVID scare started, vehicle horns being blared in the basement at random times in the day or at times even the night (why put a vehicle’s horn in the basement at any time whatsoever), banging from the top floor residents which disturbs my concentration and sleep. Sometimes there is constant praying. I do not have a problem with people praying, but its noisy and they pray like their god is extremely unhappy with them and is denying them a place in heaven.

All this noise has been going on relentlessly for several years now. It is extremely difficult to focus and constructive on work or my hobby. I do not have an option to move. I could approach the law, but I know from experience how useless they are. Besides, it is a long drawn out process with the incompetent unjust skewed legal system in India, for which I have no time or other resources to get involved with. What should I do? Please help. Important – Please do not disclose my email address to anyone, distribute it to anyone which may cause a negative impact on me, and do not sell it to anyone. Thanks

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