Cinema owners panic over patrons being allowed to carry their own food to theatres

Jun 05, 2018, 15:46 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Ahead of June 12 hearing, desperately want government to change its mind on patrons being allowed to bring own food inside theatres

In April, the HC suggested a total ban on eatables inside theatres if patrons were not allowed to bring outside food. Representation Pic
In April, the HC suggested a total ban on eatables inside theatres if patrons were not allowed to bring outside food. Representation Pic

Movie theatre owners are intensely lobbying to prevent the state government from endorsing the Bombay High Court's view that cine-goers cannot be unilaterally prohibited from bringing their own food and water into theatres and multiplexes considering these items come at exorbitant prices inside.

Sources in Mantralaya said the proposed policy had caused a great deal of heartburn to multiplex operators, who have been making all efforts to influence the government. They want an escape route in the policy that the government has promised to submit before the Bombay High Court, which is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on June 12, a senior Mantralaya official said.

In April this year, the division bench of Justice Shantanu Kemkar and Justice Makrand Karnik had said that being a licensing authority, the government was legally bound to ensure that the fundamental rights of citizens were not compromised by theatre and multiplex owners. In response, the state counsel had assured the court that a policy to this effect would be made and submitted to the court at the next hearing on June 12.

A senior Mantralaya official told mid-day that a top ranking executive of a multiplex company, which runs a multiplex chain in Mumbai and elsewhere, met a very senior IAS officer last week. The executive is reported to have told the officer that the operators were against making any change to the policy that favours patrons. The officer said a meeting of all stakeholders was also held on May 29. Deputy Secretary (Home) Vijay Patil presided over the meeting.

Advocate Aditya Pratap Singh, who represents city resident Jinendra Baxi in the PIL, said initially his presence at the May 29 meeting was objected to by multiplex players, but the deputy secretary intervened and allowed his say on behalf of his client.

"Surprisingly, instead of the multiplex association, a specific multiplex operator [who mid-day found to be influencing senior bureaucrats] was invited to the meeting," Singh told mid-day on Monday.

Also Read: Bombay High Court: Food Should Be Sold At Regular Prices In Theatres

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