In a relief to many traders, outlets of prominent multinational brands, the Karnataka High Court gave an interim order directing the BBMP not to take any coercive action regarding violation of its signage policy (BBMP Outdoor Signage and Public Messaging Bylaws, 2018).
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike in a recent drive was taking down signage/boards unless 60% of the display board was in Kannada with the remaining 40% of the board left for other languages. Establishments were also warned that their trade licenses will be cancelled if they failed to adhere to the signage policy.
The HC interim order came as it was hearing a writ petition by members of Retailer Association of India and many other private companies against the circulars/notices regarding the signage. The private companies include Aditya Birla, Titan, Nature Basket, Adidas, Levis among others.
â€śIt is contended that on an earlier occasion, the petitioners had challenged the circulars issued by the respondent - BBMP stipulating the dimension of Kannada lettering and English lettering in the name boards. The prisoners state that once again the respondent - BBMP referring to the circular dated 22.07.2017 which is seeking to compel the petitioners to adhere to the new circulars which are identical to the circular dated 22.O7.2O 17. which were the subject matter of earlier writ petitions in which BBMP had undertaken not to take any precipitative action pursuant to the impugned circular,â€ť the HC said in its order.
It further said, â€śRespondent-BBMP is restrained from taking action pursuant to the circularsâ€¦.However, it is made clear that this interim order enures to the benefit of the petitioners in this writ petition.â€ť
This signage policy was being enforced by the BBMP for pubs, malls and restaurants and small, medium and big retail shops alike. The matter will be heard again by the HC bench led by Justice Sunil Dutt Yadav after the winter vacation.
By the start of December, more than 18,000 establishments were served notices by the BBMP asking them to comply with the directive.
The BBMP had also reportedly discussed the matter with the state legal department on how to make it a part of the Trade Licenses Act.
The first such move was taken in 2017 when the then Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George on Rajyostsava Day (November 1) spoke about the policy. Then it was said that the Kannada Development Authority had given BBMP a three-month deadline to implement the same. The same did not materialise as even then private bodies had gone to the court for relief and the cases are still being heard.