The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has recently intensified its efforts to enforce the display of Marathi signboards in shops and establishments across Mumbai. This move comes in accordance with the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 2017, which mandates the use of Marathi script. With the Supreme Court’s deadline looming, the BMC has initiated a rigorous inspection drive and has already issued notices to more than 3,000 non-compliant shops within just nine days.
The Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA), representing approximately five lakh shopkeepers, had previously challenged the state government’s rule mandating Marathi signboards. However, the apex court, while considering their petition, emphasized the importance of Marathi signboards in Maharashtra and granted a two-month deadline for compliance. The BMC’s crackdown is in alignment with the court’s orders and aims to bring violations to its notice.
Starting from Tuesday, 28th November, 2023, the BMC will take legal action against shops and establishments that fail to display Marathi signboards. In addition to prosecution, a penalty of ₹2000 per staffer per shop will be levied. The civic body has formed teams at the ward level to ensure effective enforcement. Offenders will face registration of an offense, and the BMC will report their violations to the Supreme Court.
The FRTWA has been actively running a WhatsApp campaign to create awareness among retailers regarding the legal requirements. Out of the approximately 5.5 lakh shop establishment licenses issued in Mumbai, around 80 percent have already complied with the rule and changed their signboards. However, the BMC aims to ensure universal compliance, including shops, clinics, and private offices.
The BMC’s decision to prosecute non-compliant shops and establishments for not displaying Marathi signboards aligns with the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments Act. This move reinforces the cultural significance of Marathi in the state and aims to promote linguistic diversity. As the enforcement drive progresses, the BMC hopes to see full compliance from all businesses, contributing to the preservation and promotion of the Marathi language.