Commercial street: BBMP brings down English signboards

Commercial street: BBMP brings down English signboards

 In Commercial Street, a 'de-anglicising' movement on Tuesday, shocked the shopkeepers and shoppers. The BBMP began the drive to remove all the English commercial boards in front of the shops on the popular shopping street.  

The drive startled the shopkeepers who claimed that they were given no intimation from the civic body about the decision. The BBMP authorities, however, said that they are implementing orders issued by the Kannada Development Authority (KDA) to remove all the English boards in front of shops. KDA had said that at least 60% of the board should be written in Kannada.  

The drive also led to a traffic snarl on the narrow stretch of the street as a JCB and truck were working in tandem to remove and load the English boards.

"We have been told to remove all boards which are towards the road and which are in English by the BBMP and we are doing just that." a contractor on site told DH. He even objected taking photographs of the drive.

"We had two meetings with the KDA members who directed us to ensure that all the boards have at least 60% in Kannada. Following this, a circular was issued. In charge field inspectors were also directed to inform the same to all commercial establishments in their divisions," official said.

However, shopkeepers said they were not informed of any such decision from the BBMP. "No intimation or notice was served to us. We will meet the commissioner tomorrow and ask him to explain the details to us. We will take stern action against the BBMP." said Ashok Motwani, president of Commercial Street Shop Owners Association.

"How can one expect all buyers to read Kannada?'' asked, M Nais, a shopkeeper on Commercial Street.

BBMP Mayor, R Sampath Raj said, "We are following the direction of KDA. If the commercial establishments are not following the norms, we will take action as per the KDA direction."

In March 2014, the Karnataka High Court in WP 1901/2009 and WA 3428/2009 had stated that signboards cannot be imposed to be in Kannada.

The state government had then quoted 'the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act', passed in 1963 and amended in 2008, Rule 24A stating- Boards should be in Kannada, and wherever other languages are also used, they should come below the Kannada language. The Kannada text should be written prominently and get more space than other languages and Rule 26 also provides for a penalty for violation of Rule 24A.

The court noted Article 13 of the Indian Constitution was being violated which says the state shall not make any law that 'takes away or abridges' Constitutional provisions, and Article 19, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression.

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