Mumbai: City shops have two months to get Marathi signboards

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will resume action against shops which still do not adhere to the law of displaying their names in Marathi. Action against such shops was stopped in November 2022 after a Supreme Court (SC) order stayed it. Till then, according to BMC’s inspection, around 20 per cent of shops in Mumbai were not following the law.

According to the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) (Amendment) Act, 2022, all shops in the state must display Marathi signboards in the Devanagari script. In case there are multiple languages, the Devanagari font is not to be smaller than the others. The Act was implemented in the state from May 2022. The BMC extended the deadline to comply with the Act thrice—to May 31, to June 30 and to September 30, 2022. The civic body thereafter gave another 10 days’ time to shopkeepers to put up the signboards before starting to issue seven-day notices.

According to BMC’s estimates, 20 per cent of the shops in the city had not complied with the law. Civic officials visited over 28,653 shops, which is around 5 per cent of the total number of shops in the city, and served notices to 5,217. The Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) challenged the constitutionality of the amendment and requested a stay on BMC action. The SC ordered a stay on BMC action in the first week of November 2022. 

Association issues note

The FRTWA, in a note circulated on Tuesday, said that the court has directed the petitioners to comply with the amendment. The order said that since the festivals of Diwali and Dussehra are approaching, the Marathi signage will make the shops more accessible to Maharashtrian citizens. The counsel for the petitioner sought an extension of six months to comply with the law considering that there are almost 5 lakh shops in the city which would come under the Act’s purview. However, the SC granted them two months.

Viren Shah, president, of FRTWA, said, “We will honour the SC’s order and a message has been sent to all members conveying it. Shopkeepers have been asked to ensure that the font of the Marathi words in Devanagari script is not smaller than scripts of other languages.”

Shah added that the association never had an objection to using the Marathi language. “Our issue was that most of the boards will be redesigned as per a rule which is not practical. It requires revamping the board design to accommodate other languages,” Shah said.

The Act mandates a Rs 2,000 fine per shop staffer for violation. There is a compounding provision under the Act wherein the BMC can fine the shops and settle the matter if the shops display boards in Marathi without filing court cases. “The SC has given two months for compliance. We will take action after that,” said a BMC official.

20%
Shops that had not complied till Nov 2022

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