'Cinema hall is a private property, can bar moviegoers from carrying outside food, beverages': Supreme Court
During the hearing, CJI orally remarked, "Cinemas are private properties. The owner can decide on the rights of prohibition. If one wants to take jalebi (a sweet dish) inside the cinema hall, the owner has the right to object to the same."
The Supreme Court on Tuesday (January 3) said that cinema halls are private property and are fully entitled to set terms and conditions for the sale of food and beverages inside the halls. The top court also said that the halls have the right to bar outside food items inside the premises.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said, "A moviegoer has a choice to not consume the same." The bench also reiterated that cinemas should not object to food carried by parents for their infants.
During the hearing, CJI orally remarked, "Cinemas are private properties. The owner can decide on the rights of prohibition. If one wants to take jalebi (a sweet dish) inside the cinema hall, the owner has the right to object to the same, stating that after eating jalebi, the person might wipe his hands with the chair and ruin it unnecessarily."
"Hygienic drinking water is available for everyone for free and food for infants is also allowed, but not every food can be allowed inside the premises," the CJI further said.
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.
In its order, the apex court said, "The high court exceeded its jurisdiction in passing such an order. It needs no emphasis that the rule-making power of the state has to be in consonance with the fundamental right of cinema hall owners to carry out a business trade, etc."
The court was hearing a batch of appeals filed by theatre owners and the Multiplex Association of India challenging a 2018 verdict of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
During the hearing, counsel for the original petitioner in the case before the high court said, "There should be some uniformity. The moviegoers enter into a contract with the cinema as soon as the ticket is purchased and in the absence of prohibition printed on it, food cannot be prohibited."
However, this was opposed by senior advocate KV Viswanathan who was appearing for cinema hall owners and submitted that the precincts of cinema halls are not public property and admission to such halls is reserved by cinema hall owners.