Bombay HC asks state for policy on food inside multiplexes

Cinema hall owners have claimed that a large portion of their income comes from sale of food and beverages.

Mumbai: The Bombay high court has asked the state to inform what policy decision it plans to take with regards to cinema halls not allowing outside food to be taken inside as also regulating prices in halls. Multiplex owners claimed that once a person bought a ticket, it was a private contract between the two parties and multiplex owners could impose rules for the safety and security of patrons.

A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Jainendra Baxi through advocate Aditya Pratap, seeking directions to curb the high-handedness of multiplex and cinema hall owners who did not allow patrons to carry outside food and forced patrons to buy food from canteens inside the premises at exorbitant rates.

While arguing for the petitioner, advocate Pratap submitted that cinema halls were violating the right to life under article 21 on an everyday basis across the state and country. Security frisking by multiplex staff was simply an excuse to check people’s bags for food articles and throw them out, thus humiliating them in the process. However, senior advocate Iqbal Chagla, appearing for the FICCI Multiplex Owners Association, said that they had a right to impose any condition they wanted.

While replying to a court query whether there was a policy to regulate prices of food items inside cinema halls or whether there was a policy permitting people to carry food inside cinema halls, assistant government pleader Poornima Katharia replied in the negative. She said that only rule 121 of the Maharashtra Cinemas Regulation Rules prohibited hawking inside cinema halls.

After hearing the submissions, the bench directed the state to file an affidavit giving details of what policy measures it plans to take with regards to the query, and posted the matter for hearing on July 25.

Multiplex owners’ say
Cinema hall owners have claimed that a large portion of their income comes from sale of food and beverages. Allowing people to get outside food would prove detrimental to the jobs and incomes earned by person’s involved in the business. Secondly, on the issue of security they said installing X-ray machines would lead to additional expenditures which they cannot bear. Thirdly, they are working as per rules of contract by insisting on regulating what people can take inside the halls.

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