Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association requests six more months to install billboards in Marathi

After the May 31 deadline for shops and establishments to also display their Marathi names in Devanagiri script was passed, the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association approached the Bombay High Court to request an additional six months to display the even saying that the prices to get the new road signs have “skyrocketed” due to the shortage of manufacturers.

An amendment to the Shops and Establishments of Maharashtra (Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 2017, which required all shops and establishments to display their name in Marathi in Devanagari script, which the font must be the same as the other script and not smaller. The government had set the deadline for the same as May 31.

They have been asked to put up Marathi road signs by May 31, 2022 or else they will be prosecuted.

The petition filed through attorney Vishal Thadani says they are not challenging the validity of the amendment, but only asking for an extension of the compliance deadline.

“The members of the Petitioner’s Association do not contest the validity of the Amendment but have filed the Petition in Brief solely for the purpose of obtaining an extension of the period for compliance with the amended provision by six months and in In the meantime, no enforcement action shall be taken or legal action taken against its members for non-compliance with said amendment during the extended period,” the plea read.

One of the reasons for requesting an extension is that the amendment entered into force on March 17 and that its deadline for compliance until May 31 is “extremely short”.

Pointing out that the hospitality industry has “suffered huge losses over the past two years”, the plea says that even changing the name of the sign of a usually painted sign costs between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh. While illuminated signs and neon signs cost between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

In addition, the number of manufacturers of name panels or signs is limited and therefore it is impossible to change so many name panels simultaneously. “This scarcity of billboard makers, painters and labor has resulted in skyrocketing prices for changing billboard names,” the plea added.

The AHAR had made several representations to the government and the BMC on 19, 20, 24 and 25 May. However, they received no response, so they filed the petition with the HC.

A similar petition was filed by the Retail Merchants Federation in the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time.

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Christina A. Kroll