Noise pollution can be addressed either under the law of torts or under the Code of Criminal Procedure as a nuisance.

What is Noise Pollution?

Last updated on Aug 24, 2022

Noise is common in everyday life, but when it goes above a certain limit, it is considered to be pollution1 as well as a public nuisance1. Noise at such levels may be injurious to human beings, living creatures, plants, property and the environment2

The law known as the Noise Pollution (Regulation And Control) Rules, 2000 regulates and controls noise in India.

Right to Live in Peace without Noise

Everyone has the right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950 to live in peace, comfort and quiet within their house and has a right to prevent the noise from reaching them3. No one can claim a right to create noise even in their own premises which would travel beyond their precincts and cause nuisance to neighbours or others. That’s why any noise which affects the ordinary comforts of life of a person is also considered to be a nuisance4.

Meaning of Noise

The word noise is not explained in any law but noise is considered to be an environmental pollutant1 in India. It is one of the main causes of environmental pollution.

Noise derives its meaning from the Latin term ‘nausea’. Courts have defined noise as ‘unwanted sound, a potential hazard to health and communication dumped into the environment with regard to the adverse effect it may have on unwilling ears4. For example, a blaring horn causes unwanted noise but the sound which pleases the listeners is music and is not considered to be noise4.

Causing Noise Pollution

Decibel is the unit of measurement of noise. There are noise limits that you will have to follow depending on the area you live in. However, since measuring noise requires scientific instruments (such as a sound level meter), you may not always know if you are exceeding the noise limits for a particular area. In such cases, you should:

  • Make sure that regardless of what you do or which equipment you use, it does not turn out to be noisy and a disturbance for others. For example, if you are playing music during a party, try to keep the volume down at night time while people are sleeping.

  • Don’t wait for your neighbours or people around you to file a complaint to the police. If they mention that you are making noise that is disturbing them, try to reduce the noise.

Please note that it does not matter whether you made the noise unintentionally or intentionally; all that matters is whether you have created too much noise.

Complaining against Noise Pollution

If any noise causes you annoyance, discomfort or any injury, then you can file a complaint with the police or your State’s Pollution Control Board. Otherwise, you can also complain if you know that the noise5. level is disturbing you or it happens at night between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am.

  1. Section 2 (a) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 [][][]
  2. Central Pollution Control Board, WHO Guidelines for Noise Quality, https://cpcb.nic.in/who-guidelines-for-noise-quality/Some common sources of noise pollution are industrial activity, construction activity, generator sets, etc.(Preamble, Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules, 2000) []
  3. Burrabazar Fireworks Dealers Association v. Commissioner of Police, Calcutta AIR 1998 Cal 121 []
  4. Noise Pollution (V), In re, (2005) 5 SCC 733 [][][]
  5. Rule 7, Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules, 2000 []

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Comments

Mischele Gonsalves

July 22, 2022

My building construction is weak and I have a small kid in the house. He is little mischievous, he bangs his legs and walk . So the people below me always complains about it. So does this comes under noise pollution and can this incident be filed as police complain

Nyaaya

August 12, 2022

Yes this is actionable and an injunction suit in a civil court may be filed for restraining such nuisance. If there is any damage that has been caused due to such acts, such damages can also be claimed by you in the civil court. It is advisable to talk to the neighbours and solve them amicably and in the most social manner.

Shivendra

September 12, 2022

Beside my home MCD on his own area has awarded a dumper yard and heavy vehicles restoration is causing huge disturbing noice even at Mid night . We are having sleepless night and wonder where to go to stop this . My Block is ED Pitmapmura .just beyond ED boundary wall just 5 m away from my home .

Pl help as we are clues due to allotment of this business activity all round time.

Nyaaya

September 21, 2022

Under the new system of fines, a violation of norms over the use of diesel generator sets can result in sealing of the sets and a fine between Rs 10,000 and Rs 100,000 depending on the size of the set. Violations in cases of sound-emitting construction equipment can result in a fine of Rs 50,000 and its seizure or sealing.
The CPCB has laid down the permissible noise levels in India for different areas. Noise pollution rules have defined the acceptable level of noise in different zones for both daytime and night time. In industrial areas, the permissible limit is 75 dB for daytime and 70 dB at night. In commercial areas, it is 65 dB and 55 dB, while in residential areas it is 55 dB and 45 dB during daytime and night respectively. Additionally, state governments have declared ‘silent zones’ which includes areas that lie within 100 meters of the premises of schools, colleges, hospitals and courts. The permissible noise limit in this zone is 50 dB during the day and 40 dB during the night.
The private law suits in the area may relate to public nuisance under Section 290 of the Penal Code. This section provides punishment in cases of public nuisance. If any individual suffers any loss of hearing or any other hurt or injury on account of any act done on the part of the Government in exercise of its non-sovereign functions then the Government can be held liable for damages under Article 299 of the Constitution of India. Under certain circumstances a limit may be put on the usefulness of instituting law suits relating to nuisance. In urban areas, it will be difficult to identify infinite number of sources of noise pollution. The burden of proving hazard of the noise pollution can put insurmountable barriers to a plaintiff’s suit. In certain cases private citizen cannot sue where large public interest is to be served such as carrying out of highways, construction of airports, operation to clear forest, creation of municipal green belts and the like such programmers activities.
The provisions of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) can also be invoked to prevent the pollution of almost all kinds, including noise pollution. Under Section 133 and Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Executive Magistrates have been authorised to issue certain conditional orders. This section empowers the Magistrate[19], on police report or on other information, to remove, prohibit or regulate any public nuisance or any trade or occupation, injurious to health or physical comfort of the community as noise sometimes amount to public nuisance and also may cause physical discomfort to the people, its control will lie within the ambit of the aforesaid sections of the Code.[20] The object of such order is to face the problem of law and order temporarily as the duration of such order is merely of two months.

Arun Cherian

October 7, 2022

My nearby mosque is using loudspeaker with very high volume even after 10PM, what I can do to control it.

Nyaaya

October 25, 2022

If any noise is being made which causes you annoyance, discomfort or any injury, then you can file a complaint with the authorities given below. You can also complain if you know that the noise level has exceeded the noise standards by 10 dB(A) in any area or there is noise pollution that happens at night between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am.
You can complain to the nearest police station, call 100 or file an online complaint with your State’s police complaint portal if you want to prevent noise pollution. The officer in charge of the police station, police commissioner or any officer (not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police) can take action by:

Seizing equipment,

Stopping the use of a microphone or loudspeaker, etc.

Going to the Pollution Control Board and getting a written order prohibiting the noise.

For example, this is how complain can be filed in New Delhi.
Following a National Green Tribunal order, Delhi government has launched a website for people to register their grievances related to noise pollution. The Delhi Police has launched two helpline numbers as a precautionary measure to curb noise pollution and incidents of mob lynching in the national capital. The two helpline numbers — 155270 and 155271. Step 1: Go to http://www.ngms.delhi.gov.in/ use your mobile number to generate OTP
Step 2: Select the police station concerned and register a complaint
Step 3: A complaint number will be generated you will get a sms/e-mail alert, along with the area ACP and SDM will also get sms for immediate action.

SHISHIR

October 31, 2022

My nearby fair is using loudspeaker with very high volume. We are suffering from last 10 days. Please help us. Karanjade Sector 4, Plot No.41, Panvel 410206

Nyaaya

November 11, 2022

We’re sorry to hear about this. However, Nyaaya cannot file a complaint on your behalf. If you like, you may use the steps given in this explainer on Filing a Noise Complaint to file a complaint.

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Related Resources

Effects of Noise Pollution

Noise can disturb our work, rest, sleep, and communication. It can damage hearing and evoke other psychological, and pathological reactions.

What are the offences and punishments under air pollution laws?

The offences include releasing of harmful pollutants  into the environment, violation of Pollution Under Control Certificate, etc. 

Punishment for Noise Pollution

Causing noise pollution can lead to public nuisance and environmental pollution for which you can be punished.

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is the presence of dust, fumes, gas, mist, odor, smoke or vapour, in the atmosphere, in quantities that can cause injury to human, plant or animal life or harm the environment.

What are the sources and effects of air pollution?

Air pollution is associated with many sectors, which include power, transport, industry, residential, construction, and agriculture.

Who are the authorities under the air pollution laws?

The Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards have been set up under the law to monitor air pollution in India.