Taking the first step towards banning the naming of liquor, cigarette and beedi stores and brands after deities, national figures or national monuments, the government has formed a 15-member committee to suggest amendments to the Bombay Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 1948.
In March, NCP legislator Amarsinh Pandit and other legislators in the Upper House in March had raised an attention motion and said that many liquor shops, permit rooms, beer bars and beedi brands have names such as Jai Ambe, Laxmi bar, Ranapratap beer bar, Sambhaji Beedi etc.
Pandit, who is a member of the new committee, said, “This is an attempt to disfigure history. According to me, the government must enact a law to prevent the misuse of names of national figures, gods-goddesses and national monuments. The government has at least taken the first step towards it, I am glad.”
Maharashtra Minister for Excise Chandrashekhar Bawankule had in March assured the members of the Legislative Council that the department of Labour and State Excise would hold a joint meeting to draft the proposed law. A meeting was later held, and it was decided to appoint a committee that would suggest either amending the Shop And Establishment 1948 or enacting a separate law.
Another member of the committee and senior Shiv Sena MLC Neelam Gorhe has urged the government to limit the scope of the proposed law to names of liquor shops, and make sure it does not create problems to people naming their children after gods and goddesses. “It is not appropriate to name liquor shops, beer bars and permits rooms after gods-goddesses, national monuments and even national figures. We are in the favour of banning the practice across the state,” Gorhe said.
“Currently, there is no law to prevent such misuse. The government will soon enact a law to prevent the use of names of gods, goddesses, national figures and monuments by beer bars, permit rooms and liquor shops,” said Bawankule.
A government resolution (GR) dated May 3 states that the committee, headed by the minister of labour, will include the minister of excise, Ministers of State (MoS) labour and excise, legislators Jayant Patil (NCP), Atul Bhatkhalkar (BJP), Abu Azami (Samajwadi Party), Amarsinh Pandit (NCP), Bhai Jagtap (Congress), Neelam Gorhe (Shiv Sena) Jayprakash Mundada (Shiv Sena), and officials of the labour and excise departments.
“A meeting was convened between ministers and officials of the two departments to discuss such restrictions, including possibly on non-vegetarian restaurants. It was unanimously decided to form a committee to analyse the matter further and give a report,” said an official from the labour department. While the legislators had demanded that the ban also cover non-vegetarian eateries and folk art troupes, officials feel including the restaurants would be tricky.
“There are many small and big restaurants which serve non-vegetarian food. We want to re-think about including these. However, we will look at what other members in the committee think,” the official said.