The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said by not allowing outside food, multiplexes were compelling families and children to eat junk food instead of healthy food. A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai observed that people were not prohibited from carrying food to any other public places besides multiplexes. “If people can be permitted to carry home food inside an aircraft then why not to theatres?” asked Justice More.
“We are only on the issue of security since that is the state’s main argument. Explain to us what are the security problems that a person can cause by carrying food items from home into a multiplex,” the bench said. Justice Prabhudessai said there are families and children visiting theatres and “instead of having healthy food, you’re (multiplexes) compelling them to have junk food”.
Senior Counsel Iqbal Chagla, appearing for the Multiplexes Owners’ Association, told the court that it was a matter of security that the outside food was not allowed in multiplexes. “You never know what people might carry in the shape of food,” Chagla told the court.
Chagla said at an airport, security arrangements are better than that at a multiplex. All around the world, outside food is prohibited inside the theatres and cities like New York, Paris and London have never complained, said Chagla.
“Tomorrow, people on the ground of fundamental rights will want to carry their own food and alcohol to restaurants,” said Chagla. He further argued that if the outside food was allowed, then what would happen to the commercial business inside the theatre.
The bench said it cannot compare the restaurants with multiplexes, adding that the job of a multiplex is to show cinema.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Jainendra Baxi, a film director, through his lawyer Aditya Pratap. The petition stated that there was no law that prohibits people from carrying their own food inside the theatres. Pratap told the court that there is already a previous judgment of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court permitting outside food inside theatres. Government pleader Poornima Kantharia, however, told the court that the same judgment has been challenged and was pending before the Supreme Court. The bench said it would like to see what the apex court had to say on the issue.
An affidavit, filed by Venktesh Bhat, deputy secretary, Home department, said that “…the state government has taken the decision that there is no reason to change the provision of the Maharashtra Cinema (Regulation) rules 1966.” “Although there is no specific provision in the Maharashtra Cinema (Regulation) Rules 1966 to prohibit viewers from bringing their own food items or water inside the cinema theatre, the licensing authority is competent, under rule 101, to put terms and conditions and restrictions on establishment owners to ensure safety and security of viewers, which are of vital importance. As per the opinion of the director general of police, carrying own food may create chaos and may lead to security issue,” the affidavit stated.