Cinema licences become another flashpoint between Delhi govt, police

  • Karn Pratap Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 05, 2015 00:43 IST

The proprietors of single-screen cinema theatres and multiplexes across Delhi are caught in a face-off between the Delhi police and the state government over the issue of who is the licensing authority for city cinema halls.

Cinema hall owners are puzzled as both the licensing unit of the city police and the Delhi government’s revenue department have sent them letters for carrying out the annual/bi-annual inspection of movie halls. They believe that going for a dual inspection will affect their business besides leaving their fate undecided, since it is unclear which agency will issue the licence.

A notification issued on January 9 by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung had appointed the deputy commissioners (revenue) of all the revenue districts in Delhi the licensing authorities for city cinema halls. Though the notification was issued before the AAP government came to power, the Delhi government has now decided to exercise the rights given to the DCs (revenue) in the L-G’s notification.

This would mean that the police’s licensing branch would no longer be able to issue licences to cinema halls.

The licensing unit officials, however, claim that they are yet to receive any official intimation on their right to conduct inspection of cinema halls and issue licences. It is the Delhi Police licensing department which to date has been issuing licences to cinema halls in Delhi.

“Citing L-G’s notification, DCs (revenues), have written to proprietors of cinema theatres and multiplexes, informing them about the annual/bi-annual inspection starting from May 6. We have also been asked to deposit `500 per movie screen as inspection fee,” said a a senior executive of a multiplex cinema.The multiplex executive said that cinema hall owners have already paid the inspection fee to the police’s licensing unit following a letter they received from the DCP (licensing unit) early last month.

“Since there was no clarification on the L-G’s notification, we paid the inspection fee to the licensing branch considering it to be the official nodal agency. We also agreed to undergo the joint inspection to be carried out by police and other agencies concerned such as fire, MCD, PWD, power, etc, from May 11,” the multiplex executive said. He said files related to previous inspections and licences are still with the licensing unit.

The DCs revenue, multiplex executive said, on the other hand have issued similar letters asking cinema hall owners and the agencies concerned to participate in the inspections that will start from May 6, five days ahead of the police inspection.

Now, the theatre owners don’t know which orders to follow.

Shashank Raizada, president of the National Association of Motion Pictures Exhibitors told HT: “The issue has been brought to the notice of senior Delhi police licensing department officials. A meeting with them has been scheduled today to resolve the issue. Further steps will be taken accordingly.”

Shankar Dash, joint CP (licensing unit), refused to comment on the issue saying he will have to go through the letters before making any official statement.

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