Marathi Nameboards Mandate : Supreme Court Grants Interim Relief To Members Of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association From Coercive Action
The Supreme Court on Friday passed an interim order that no coercive action should be taken against the members of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association for not complying with the Maharashtra Government direction to display names of shops and establishments in Marathi written in the Devanagri script.
A bench comprising Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy passed the interim order while considering a petition filed by the Federation against Bombay High Court's order of upholding State Government's decision.
The bench said that it cannot pass a general order of "no coercive action" and specified that the order will cover only the members of the petitioner association. The counsel appearing for the State of Maharashtra sought time for filing counter affidavit. The Court has posted the case to November 18.
Before the High Court, the Association had argued that there was no rationale in the State government's decision to impose the said condition and that the state's choice of language cannot be foisted on shops.
However while dismissing the petition the Bombay High Court bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Madhav Jamdar had observed that to say that there was some sort of invidious discrimination was wholly untrue.
"A Public purpose is sought to be achieved by the said Rule. There is a broader public purpose and rationale. Marathi may be the official language of the state government, but it is an undeniably common language and mother tongue of the state… It has its own extremely rich and diverse cultural traditions extending to every field of endeavour from literature to theatre and beyond. There are texts in Marathi which are expressed and written in Devanagri," the division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Madhav Jamdar observed.
"If any retailer wishes to carry out trade in Maharashtra, it shall be subject to conditions that the government seeks to impose uniformly on all. Clearly, there is no violation of Article 14 (Right to equality before law) of the Constitution,"the court held.
It had also said that the rights under Article 19 of the Constitution were not unfettered and contained reasonable restrictions. The bench added that it was mindful of the fact that in some parts of the country, there was a practice of not using any other script other than the local script but that was not the case here and that no other language was prohibited in Maharashtra. It had added that Devanagri-Marathi documents were permitted even in the High Court, unless translations are required by a particular bench or court, though the language of court was English.
The petition was argued by Senior Advocate, Mr. Gopal Sankaranarayanan and it was filed through Advocate, Ms. Mohini Priya.
Case Title: Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association and Anr v. The State of Maharashtra| SLP (civil) 10629/2022
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