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Deadline for shops in Mumbai to put up Marathi signboards ends tomorrow, BMC says next step after Supreme Court order

The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in March cleared a bill making Marathi signboards in the Devanagari script compulsory for shops and establishments.

The BMC's directive met with opposition from retailers association, following which the civic body extended the deadline twice. (Express photo by Mahindra Parikh)

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) deadline for commercial establishments and shops in Mumbai for putting up signboards in Marathi outside their establishments ends Friday, September 30.

Civic officials said that they are waiting for a Supreme Court hearing that is also listed for Friday before going ahead with any further decision related to this order.

The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in March cleared a bill making Marathi signboards in the Devanagari script compulsory for shops and establishments.

Following this, the BMC in April issued a set of guidelines stating that all commercial establishments will have to change the existing signboards to those written in Marathi by May 15. The BMC’s directive met with opposition from retailers association, following which the civic body extended the deadline twice.

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The retailers association moved the Supreme Court challenging the state government’s decision and a Bombay High Court ruling in February stating that the putting up of Marathi signboards in Mumbai was reasonable.

“We have challenged the decision on constitutional grounds and the matter is due on September 30 for hearing. Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city and the retailers should be given a relaxation, since there are more than five lakh registered commercial establishments in Mumbai, including restaurants and pubs, and a majority of their names are in English and Hindi,” said Viran Shah, president of Federation of Retailers and Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA).

Advocate Mohini Priya, who is representing the FRTWA, said that a petition was filed challenging the constitutionality of Section 36(A) of the Maharashtra Shops and Establishment Act, which was amended by the state government.

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“Earlier, the Establishment Act stated that setting up of Marathi signboards is a rule in the state of Maharashtra. After the amendment, the rule was changed into an Act which mandated the setting up of Marathi signboards outside shops and establishments. We have challenged this decision and may also plead for a stay on the order,” said Priya.

“We are waiting for the Supreme Court to give its ruling on Friday that will give us a clear picture. After the state government passed the decision, we had meetings with members of the retailer association and considering the constraints that they had highlighted, the deadline was postponed twice. Now we are waiting for the SC ruling and after the judgement comes on Friday then we will get a clear picture, that will help us to create a roadmap of what lies ahead and how we approach it,” said Sanjog Kabre, deputy municipal commissioner (specials).

The amendment by the government mandated that the font of the Marathi-Devanagari script could not be smaller than the font of the other scripts. In case of violations, action can be initiated as per the provision of the Shops Act, 2017.

First published on: 29-09-2022 at 03:46:14 pm
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