Holding mobile towers as a health hazard, the Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday directed telecom service providers operating in the state to remove within two months their towers falling in the vicinity of schools, hospitals and play grounds.
The division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice N K Jain Senior held that radiations emitted from mobile phones and mobile base towers are "hazardous to children and patients", as accepted by the inter-ministerial committee of Central Government, and needs relocation from school, colleges, hospitals and play grounds immediately.
The order, running into more than 200 pages, has asked all the mobile companies of the country having towers erected in Rajasthan to relocate them away from schools, hospitals, colleges and playgrounds within two months.
It also asked them to relocate the towers from a periphery of 500 meters from prisons, and those falling in 100 meter distance of ancient and archaeological heritage monuments.
Earlier on September 7, the Supreme Court had refused to interfere with a Rajasthan High Court's interim order to the state government to remove mobile phone towers from near the schools, hospitals and densely populated localities.
Today the court said, "We have received a large number of communications from the state and across the country that the mobile tower radiations are harmful and even the inter-ministerial committee of Central Government in its meeting in May this year has held so.
"Even the Supreme Court has held that the radiations are hazardous and supported our view while rejecting the appeal filed against our interim order for relocation of towers away from schools."
The bench relied upon the inter-ministerial meeting of Central government of May 2012, wherein it was emphasised that the electromagnetic radiations emitted from cellphone as well as towers erected for mobile communication have both thermal and non-thermal effect i.e. these waves cook human tissues just like a microwave oven if the body is exposed to these radiation for long.
The bench has asked the state government and mobile companies to follow the norms and guidelines, prescribed and fixed by the inter-ministerial committee in its meeting dated May 31, 2012.
Besides all, the mobile towers in near the prohibited areas of school, hospitals etc have to be relocated within two months, it said.
"It has further been held on the basis of report of inter-ministerial committee that the radiations are harmful and causes cancer, brain tumour, digestive disorder, tachycardia, and other diseases and disorders in human body," said Prateek Kasliwal counsel for petitioner Justice (rtd) I S Israni and others.
The court also dismissed petitions filed by the two unions of GSM and CDMA telecom service providers namely COAI and AUSPI.
The court said that a mobile phone should not be used for more than 20-25 minutes per day but the consumers are not being made aware of this fact by the mobile manufacturing as well as service providing company, and for which mass awareness is required.
The bench has also directed that the radiation emission level of mobile phones also to be made public as suggested by department of technology, the counsel said.
COAI and AUSPI had filed two separate petitions challenging 2G and 3G Mobile tower/ Pole By-laws, 2012 framed by state government in September this year.
It was contended by senior advocate Gopal Subramaniyam on behalf of the unions that the by-laws amount to restraining the livelihood, and it was also unjust as the state government is not competent to frame law as telecommunication is not a subject matter on which a state can legislate law.
Brushing aside the contentions the division bench upheld the by-laws stating that the same are regulatory measures and even the by-laws have been framed after an advisory came to be issued by the Central government based on the recommendations made by the inter-ministerial committee.
Such regulations framed by the government for seeking prior permission and to place restriction on installation of mobile towers and base antennas at some specified places cannot be said to be illegal and ultra vires, the judges said.
"For installation of towers as per Union of India itself, the permission is required to be sought from Local Municipal bodies as such they have all right to regularise their installation and put a restrain for installation at some places," says court order.