Supreme Court of India has stated that cinema hall owners are entitled to set their own terms and conditions for the sale of food inside theatres. The court was hearing a batch of appeals that theatre owners and the Multiplex Association of India had filed. They challenged a 2018 verdict of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which ruled that multiplexes and theatres cannot prevent the audience from carrying their own food and beverages inside the movie halls. (Also read: ‘Historic day’: Cinema halls return to Valley)
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha was quoted by ANI as saying, “Suppose someone starts getting jalebis. The owner would not want anyone wiping their hands on the seats.” It added that owners “may not want tandoori chicken to be bought in” and said that no cinemagoer was being forced to buy popcorn (and other food items being sold inside the cinema halls).
The court also said that a moviegoer has the choice to not consume the food and beverages served inside theatres. “A cinema hall is the private property of the owner of such hall and he is entitled to put such terms and conditions as he deems fit provided the same are not contrary to public interest or safety,” it said.
CJI Chandrachud said, “A cinema hall owner has the right to regulate the entry of food and beverage. Whether to consume what is available is entirely upon the choice of the moviegoer. Viewers visit halls for entertainment.”
The apex court said it is a matter of a commercial decision of the theatre owner. “The cinema hall is not a gym that you need healthy food. It is a place of entertainment. It is privately owned, so it is the owner’s prerogative.”
A barandbench report also quoted the bench as saying, “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.”
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