Court seeks Maharashtra government assurance after MNS threat

August 28th, 2008 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 28 (IANS) The Bombay High Court Thursday asked the Maharashtra government to make a statement on the maintainance of law and order in the wake of threats to shopkeepers by Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to have signboards in Marathi.Justice J. N. Patel was hearing a petition filed by the Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association (FRTWA) following threats by the MNS in the past couple of days warning action against those who failed to comply on the issue of Marathi signboards by Aug 28.

The politicization of the issue notwithstanding, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has quietly ensured that nearly 75 percent of shops in the city have already complied with the requirement, a high-ranking civic official said.

In the past 11 years when the drive to make shops and commercial establishments put up signboards in Marathi was implemented, the MCGM initiated prosecution against 17,468 errant establishments.

Of these, 9,836 were found guilty of not complying with the law and slapped with penalties, ranging from Rs.1,000 to Rs.5,000. There are a total of 484,000 shops and establishments functioning all over Mumbai under different categories.

So far, the MCGM has netted fines amounting to over Rs.7.75 million from those who failed to install Marathi signboards, said chief inspector (shops and establishments department) Mohan Ransing.

“It is a huge task, but we have covered nearly 75 percent of it. We are confident that very soon, the remaining shops and establishments shall also fall in line with the requirements,” he said.

He pointed out that this is an ongoing process in the MCGM and in June 2008, the civic body initiated proceedings against 884 errant shopkeepers - more than the total figure of 2005-2006. In 2006-2007, MCGM netted over Rs.3.43 million in penalties, or nearly 40 percent of the total penalties collected so far, according to Ransing.

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