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Maharashtra Official Language Act, 1964: Govt passes Bill to amend law for effective use of Marathi in administrative work

The two Houses of the state legislature Monday passed a Bill amending the Maharashtra Official Language Act, 1964, for the effective use of the Marathi in administrative work in all government offices.

Some of the provisions include appointing a Marathi language officer and language committees in the districts, and disciplinary action against the officials for violating the provision.

As per the provisions, the district collector will designate an officer as a Marathi language officer, who will be expected to act upon the complaints about not using the language and non-implementation of the provisions of the law.

The district collector will also set up a district Marathi language committee, which will also have two non-official members, for its implementation.

A provision of disciplinary action against government officials has been also made in the Bill. Another provision mandates all government offices to publish people-related information on websites and any other mode of communication in Marathi only. The provisions are applicable to all the government offices and their subordinate offices in the state.

Subhash Desai, senior Sena leader and Minister for Marathi Language, said that the Bill was passed in both the Houses of the legislature Monday.

“The Maharashtra Official Language Act, 1964, was vague in its applicability and on the use of Marathi language in the government work. That is why the amendment was required to the law. We have brought clarity in the law. Now, it will ensure the effective use of the Marathi government business,” said Desai.

He further said that there was no penal provision against the officials for not using Marathi. “We have included that as well”, he added.

In the backdrop of the complaints of Marathi not being used in the government business, the government had set up a committee in August 2020 to study and suggest recommendations to increase the use of the Marathi language in administrative work. The amendment was proposed following the committee’s report.

This is the second move by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led government related to the Marathi language, which is a pet issue of the Shiv Sena. In February last year, a Bill was passed in the state legislature making the Marathi compulsory subject from class 1 to 10 in the schools of all boards.

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