The Bombay High Court hauled up Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray and the state government over the outfit’s warning to shopkeepers to put up Marathi signboards.
A packed courtroom watched as a division bench comprising Justices JN Patel and KK Tated said: “No political party can hold the city to ransom.” The court also forbade Thackeray from making provocative speeches on the issue. Slamming the government for its soft approach, the court directed it to guarantee the safety of the lives and properties of shopkeepers and citizens.
A stunned Thackeray backed off immediately. “I was only demanding that civic rules be implemented,” he said. “I got a lot of calls from traders, bureaucrats and politicians asking for time. So, I have asked my cadres to keep quiet for now.”
This is the second gag order against Thackeray. The first, issued by the police in February, forbade him from speaking against North Indians.
A petition filed by the Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association said it was ready to abide by a civic rule to put up Marathi signboards but not with Thackeray’s demand that the Marathi letters be bolder than those in other languages.
The court questioned the MNS's authority to issue such a diktat. It wasn't impressed by a letter Thackeray had written to policemen, asking them for support. Government pleader DA Nalawade assured the court the state would take action against Thackeray but the court insisted the home secretary assure the court shopkeepers would be protected.