HC upholds Maharashtra government's rule for shops to display names in Marathi

The court in its order noted that there was no bar on using any other language in their display board and the rule only mandated the shop's name to be displayed in Marathi.

Published: 23rd February 2022 04:07 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2022 04:07 PM   |  A+A-

Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court (File Photo)

By PTI

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said the Maharashtra government's rule mandating shops and establishments to display their names in Marathi (Devanagari script) language was reasonable and refused to quash it.

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Madhav Jamdar dismissed a petition filed by the Federation of Retail Traders and imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on it.

The court in its order noted that there was no bar on using any other language in their display board and the rule only mandated the shop's name to be displayed in Marathi.

The petition had challenged an amendment to the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 2017, as per which all shops and establishments have to display signboards of their names in Marathi, the font of which shall be the same as that of the other script and not smaller.

The federation said this was in violation of Articles 13 (Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights), 19 (Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech) and 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India.

The petitioner's advocate, Mayur Khandeparkar, argued that the state government had adopted Marathi as its official language for its own use.

The government cannot foist any language on its citizens, he argued.

The bench then questioned as to how the petitioner's fundamental rights were violated when the government was not imposing a bar on anyone from using any other language.

"If the rule said that you have to use only Marathi, then it would have been a matter of discussion. Here you can use any other language as well as there is no bar," Justice Patel said.

Justice Jamdar said the rule was for the convenience of Maharashtra's public at large, whose mother tongue is Marathi.

"What the petitioner fails to recognise is that this requirement is not meant for retail traders, but meant for workers and public who approach them, who are more likely to be familiar with Marathi," the court said.

“Marathi may be the official language of the state government, but it is also undeniably the common language and mother tongue of the state,” the HC said.

The bench also questioned the motive behind filing of the petition in 2022 when the amendment was carried out in 2018.

"The rule was existing even prior to that (2018). Only its implementation was stayed," Justice Patel said.

"To say that there is some sort of invidious discrimination is wholly untrue. If a trader wishes to carry out trade in Maharashtra, then it must be subject to rules of the government which seek to impose uniformity on all," the HC said in its order.

The court further said there were some states in India which mandate the use of only local language and script, which was not the case in Maharashtra.



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