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Supreme Court nudges Mumbai Traders to comply with Marathi sign board!

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Supreme Court nudges Mumbai Traders to comply with Marathi sign board!

Shops in Mumbai can’t be exempted from putting up signboards in Marathi because it is a cosmopolitan city, the Supreme Court observed, nudging traders from the city to comply with the 2022 law that requires Marathi signboards outside all shops, big and small, in Maharashtra.


Bench of justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan give logic:

How is it going to prejudice you by putting a board in Marathi? Rather than spending so much money on litigation in court, you buy a signboard and put it,” a bench of justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan said,

The bench said Mumbai was also the capital of Maharashtra and Marathi was the official language. “You should not be fighting over this. You are doing business in the state. If you put up a board in Marathi, you will get more customers. It is all about your ego.”


Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association also have their own logic:

The Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association, which has for years resisted strong-arm tactics by political groups to force shopkeepers to prominently put up signboards in Marathi, told the bench that they were on a larger point. Lawyer Mohini Priya, appearing for the federation, said their petition raises constitutional questions of law on whether a state can mandate the use of a language in matters of trade and business.

We are not against the promotion of the Marathi language. The rules require it to be prominently displayed above any other language on the signboard. Such a rule may be mandatory for official purposes but not for shops. Mumbai is a cosmopolitan and people from all states come here,” she said.


Stand of the Maharashtra Government

The Maharashtra government, which was represented by advocate Siddharth Dharmadhikari, said the state was well within its right to introduce an amendment in Section 36-A of the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act last year. He pointed out that the petitioners have claimed that changing the signboard will entail a huge cost but this could not be a ground to argue that the amendment was unconstitutional.

In its affidavit filed last month, the state government underlined that the use of Marathi on signboards was already part of the rules before the amendment came into force and the new provision only extended it to shops with less than 10 employees for the sake of uniformity.

The change has been made “purely for the benefit of the Marathi-speaking 69% population of Maharashtra, thereby making it more accessible and recognisable and to further inculcate the feeling of belongingness to the native land,” the state government said.

The petitioners had also argued that imposing Marathi on signboards will dilute their brand value, affecting their fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) providing freedom to practice any trade or profession.


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Collated and Compiled by the internal staff of Karma Global with the knowledge and expertise that they possess,  besides adaptation, illustration, derivation, transformation, collection and auto generation for its monthly newsletter Issue 16  of  October  2023 and in case of specific or general information or compliance updates for that matter, kindly reach out to the Marketing Team – /


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