The Supreme Court today sought responses from Maharashtra and others on a plea challenging a Bombay High Court which refused to quash the state government's rule mandating shops and establishments to display their names in Marathi (Devanagari script) language.

A bench of Justice K M Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy issued notice to the Maharashtra government, Mumbai Municipal Corporation, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, and others on an appeal filed by the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association challenging the February 23, 2022 order of the High Court.

The High Court had dismissed a petition filed by the Federation of Retail Traders and imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on it.

The High Court had noted that there was no bar on using any other language on 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 had 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.

The High Court had 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 had 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 High Court had said.

With PTI inputs