Mumbai may soon see a spurt in the number of illuminated signboards outside commercial establishments. Reason: taking note of the recent Bombay high court (HC) ruling that the signboards don’t amount to advertisement, the civic body is all set to scrap the licence fee for such boards.
Shivram Shetty, owner, Deepa Family Restaurant and Bar, Dahisar, who had filed the petition, said, “It is a signboard indicating the name of my hotel. I am not advertising any product, so I did not take a licence for it. The HC has quashed the action initiated against me by the civic body for flouting the law.”
The HC has now put on the civic body the onus of explaining how the signboards amount to advertisements. “It is possible that the intention of the petitioners may be only to indicate the hotel or bar was situated at a particular place,so the customers do not find it difficult to locate it,” said the HC order.
The Federation of Retail Traders Association (FRTWA) termed the charging of the licence fee "illegal". “We have written multiple letters to the BMC, explaining the signboards are meant to guide the customers and not for publicity, but the licence department officials just threaten and mislead the shopkeepers,” said Viren Shah, president, FRTWA.
“We need to study whether the judgement is applicable only to the petitioner or to all other establishments. We will seek a legal opinion soon,” said Sharad Bande, superintendent, BMC, licences department.