Press Trust of india

SC stays J&K HC direction allowing people to carry food inside cinema halls

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New Delhi, Aug 10: The Supreme Court today stayed a Jammu and Kashmir High Court direction to the cinema hall and multiplex owners of the state not to prohibit moviegoers from carrying own food and water inside the theatres.

Besides the relaxation on carrying food items inside the theatres, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on July 18 passed a number of directions related to cinema halls.

A bench of justices R F Nariman and Indu Malhotra, as an interim relief, stayed only one direction of the High Court and sought the reply of the State government and the lawyers who had filed a PIL before the High Court within four weeks.

Appearing for the petitioner — the Multiplex Association of India that has challenged the High Court order — senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said if the order was implemented across the country, these business entities would face a breakdown.

“Can I be allowed to carry my whisky and chips into Willingdon Club and ask for soda there?” Rohatgi said as he sought an immediate stay of the High Court order.

The bench asked the senior lawyer whether there were any rules that imposed restrictions on carrying food and water inside the theatres.

Rohatgi said statutory rules existed only for films and not for food articles as these business entities were cinema halls.

“The absence of any rules does not mean that people can carry their own food inside the cinema halls,” he said.

Senior advocates Abhishek M Singhvi, Vivek Tankha and advocate Sumeer Sodhi, appearing for petitioner Waves Cinema, Jammu, also opposed the High Court order, saying the entry tickets of the theatres had conditions mentioned, restricting people from carrying food inside the halls.

“Due to the absence of any substantive law on the issue, we will have to rely upon old English judgments, which held that the terms and conditions mentioned on the entry tickets must be complied with,” Singhvi said.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing after six weeks.

On July 18, the High Court had issued a slew of directions on a PIL filed by two lawyers, seeking a direction for the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir Cinemas (Regulation) Rules, 1975 in their letter and spirit.

The PIL before the High Court had further sought a direction prohibiting the cinema hall owners from restraining the moviegoers from taking outside eatables with them inside the cinema halls.

The High Court had directed the owners of the multiplexes and cinema halls in the state not to prohibit the moviegoers henceforth from carrying own food and water inside the theatres.

It had also directed the State government and the licensing authority and district magistrates to ensure that a ban on polythene bags at multiplexes and cinema halls was strictly enforced.

The High Court had asked the multiplex and cinema hall owners to put up signboards at conspicuous places, requesting the moviegoers not to litter the multiplexes and cinema halls with waste food items and empty bottles.

“The government of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the licensing authority and every district magistrate in the state are directed to ensure that a proper uniformity is maintained with respect to the sale price of tickets in all the cinemas of the state,” the order had said.

It had directed a strict compliance of the rules, which provided that no person in the age group of 5 to 18 years should be admitted to any show commencing before 3 pm, except on a Sunday or any holiday notified by the state.

“The government as well as every district magistrate in the state is directed to see and ensure that these directions are complied with forthwith in their true letter and spirit and in case of any breach of these directions on the part of any multiplex or cinema hall owners, take stern action against them and even revoke the license of such multiplex or cinema hall owners,” the High Court order had said.

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