The Bombay High Court has thrown out a petition by a holiday resort that had sought quashing of a noise complaint against it by the local authorities. In a peculiar case of passing the buck, Villa Calangute Resort Pvt Ltd in north Goa said it has no loudspeakers and that Amazon’s virtual assistant technology Alexa played loud music in violation of the noise pollution rules. Calling the petition “frivolous”, the court has imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on the resort.
The resort had filed the petition seeking quashing of two show cause notices. Refusing to do so, the Goa division bench of the Bombay High Court, comprising Justices Mahesh Sonak and RN Laddha, said that the defence about Alexa or guests playing loud music is “novel”. “We are sure that the same will be dealt with by the authorities, which have issued the notices. Prima facie, we feel that the petitioner cannot pass the blame on its guests and, even more, to Alexa,” the court said.
The court also observed that the implementation of noise pollution rules cannot be frustrated by raising such prima facie “frivolous defence”. The bench said, “It will be very difficult for the authorities to enforce the rules if such defences are upheld.”
Counsels for the resort – Jayant Mulgaonkar and Rupa Banaulikar – argued that show cause notices are vague because no particulars of violation have been specified. It did not mention the decibel level of noise, which allegedly went beyond the permissible limit.
Advocate General Devidas Pangam and additional government pleader Shubham Priolkar, however, pointed out that the notices clearly refer to playing loud music on May 6 at 00:31 and on June 27 at 22:33.
The court said, “Unless the petitioner (resort) places on record any permissions authorising it to play music at these hours, it cannot be said that the notices are vague or bereft of any particulars. As it is, monitoring issues of noise pollution is quite difficult.”
The court also took note of the fact that the authorities received several complaints against the resort for breaching the rules and often playing loud music at midnight.
“The issue as to whether the allegations of noise pollution are true or false will have to be decided by the authorities that issued the show-cause notices based on the material before it,” added the court.