According to India Today, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that movie halls are entirely entitled to set terms and conditions for the sale of food and beverages inside the premises, as well as the power to prohibit the sale of outside food products. This should be a comfort for publicly traded multiplex companies such as PVR and Inox Leisure.
Details about according to SC guidelines, cinema halls can set their own terms for selling food and beverages on their grounds
“A moviegoer has a choice not to consume the same,” stated a bench led by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud.
The bench, however, emphasised that theatres should not object to parents bringing food for their infants.
During the hearing, CJI stated orally: “Cinemas are privately owned. The owner has the authority to decide on the prohibition rights. If a person wishes to bring jalebi into a movie, the owner has the right to protest, claiming that after eating the jalebi, the person may wipe his hands on the chair and damage it unnecessarily.”
He went on to say, “Everyone has access to drinking water, and infant food is permitted, but not all foods are permitted on the premises. Suppose they sell nimbu paani for Rs 20, you can’t say I will go purchase my nimbu from outside and squeeze and make it.”
The court overturned a Jammu and Kashmir High Court judgement that multiplexes and movie theatres not ban moviegoers from bringing their own food and beverages inside theatres.
In its order, the court stated: “In issuing such an order, the High Court exceeded its jurisdiction. It has been suggested to movie theatre owners that drinking water will be provided free of charge, and that when an infant accompanies a parent, hall owners do not object to a suitable amount of food for the infant.”
“It goes without saying that the state’s rule-making power must be consistent with the basic right of cinema hall owners to carry on business,” the panel said.
The court was hearing a slew of challenges filed by theatre owners and the Multiplex Association of India challenging a High Court decision from 2018.
During the hearing, the counsel for the original petitioner in the high court case urged the bench: “There should be some consistency. Moviegoers enter into a contract with the cinema as soon as they purchase a ticket, and food cannot be barred unless there is a prohibition printed on it.”
Senior counsel K V Viswanathan, who was representing several cinema hall owners, argued that the precincts of cinema halls are not public property and that entry to such rooms is reserved by the cinema hall owner.
“The cinema hall’s property is the sole property of the hall’s owner. The owner has the right to impose terms and conditions as long as they do not jeopardise public interest, safety, or welfare. The owner has the authority to set the terms for the sale of food and beverages. Moviegoers have the option of not purchasing the same “the order mentioned.