In a boost to cinema hall owners, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that cinema halls are fully entitled to set terms and conditions for sale of food and beverages inside the premises and has right to bar outside food items at the premises, reported India Today. This should come as a relief for listed multiplex companies like PVR and Inox Leisure.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said, “A movie goer has a choice to not consume the same."
The bench, however, reiterated that cinemas shouldn't object to food carried by parents for infants.
During the hearing, CJI orally remarked that: "Cinemas are private properties. Owner can decide on the rights of prohibition. If one wants to take jalebi inside the cinema halls, owner has the right to object to the same stating that after eating jalebi the person could wipe his hands with the chair and ruin it unnecessarily. "
He further added, "The drinking water is available for all and infants' food items are also allowed but not every food can be allowed inside the premises. Suppose they sell nimbu paani for Rs 20, you can't say I will go buy my nimbu from outside and squeeze and make it."
The court set aside a direction of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which had ordered multiplexes and movie theatres not to prevent cinema goers from carrying their own food and beverages into movie halls.
The court in it's order said: "The High Court exceeded jurisdiction in passing such an order. It has been submitted movie hall owners that drinking water will be supplied free of charge and when an infant accompanies a parent, as a matter of practice hall owners do not object to reasonable amount of food for infant."
"It needs no emphasis that rule making power of the state has to be in consonance with the fundamental right of cinema hall owner to carry a business trade etc," the bench ruled.
The court was hearing a batch of appeals filed by theatre owners and Multiplex Association of India challenging a 2018 verdict of the High Court.
During the hearing, the counsel for original petitioner in the case before the high court told the bench: "There should be some uniformity. The movie goers enter into a contract with the cinema as soon as the ticket is purchased and in absence of prohibition printed on it, food cannot be prohibited."
However, this was opposed by senior advocate K V Viswanathan, who was appearing for some cinema hall owners, and submitted that precincts of cinema halls is not a public property and admission to such halls is reserved by cinema hall owner.
"The property of cinema hall is private property of the owner of the hall. The owner is entitled to set terms and conditions so long as such terms and conditions are not contrary to public interest, safety and welfare. The owner is entitled to set terms for sale of food and beverages. Movie goers have the choice to not purchase the same," the order stated.
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