Multiplexes cannot prohibit outside food, reiterates Bombay high court
The Bombay high court on Wednesday reiterated that patrons cannot be unilaterally prohibited from bringing their own food and water bottles inside theatres and multiplexes when vendors are allowed to serve inside at exorbitant prices.
“Either there should be total prohibition – no one should be allowed to carry or serve food inside theatres or multiplexes or the viewers should also be allowed to carry their own food and water bottles,” said the division bench of justice Shantanu Kemkar and justice Makrand Karnik. “They cannot compel viewers to buy food articles at exorbitant prices,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city resident Jinendra Baxi, challenging the ban on packed food and water bottles inside cinema halls, especially multiplexes.
In his PIL, filed through advocate Aditya Pratap, the film writer and director highlighted that patrons are not allowed to carry their own food items and water bottles inside theatres when there is no legal restriction on permitting the same inside cinema halls, but fast food is being served in several theatres, especially multiplexes and also permitted to be consumed inside theatres, although there is a restriction imposed on it by Rule 121 of the Maharashtra Cinemas (Regulation) Rules, 1966.
Baxi contended that the ban violates the fundamental right to life of medically vulnerable persons and senior citizens, as they cannot carry their own food articles and water inside the theatres.
His PIL stated that the Maharashtra government being the licencing authority for cinema theatres was legally bound to ensure that fundamental rights of citizens are not undermined by theatre and multiplexes. It added that although the petitioner had submitted representations to the government for getting the wrong rectified, the government did not respond to his pleas.
Responding to the PIL, government pleader Purnima Kantharia assured the bench that the government will form its policy in six weeks and submit it to the court on the next date of hearing. The PIL is now posted for further hearing on June 12.