cinema hall owner's rights movie theater food policies Supreme Court ruling

Supreme Court Rules: Movie Theater Food Policies


Food and Movie: Supreme Court Rules on Movie Theater Food Policies

On January 3, 2023, the Supreme Court made a ruling regarding the rights of movie theater owners to prohibit moviegoers from bringing food and drink into the theater. According to a report by Bar and Bench, the bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha, determined that the film corridor is the property of the theater owner and they have the right to determine what agreements can be put in place, as long as they do not contradict public interest or safety.

The Cinema Hall Owner’s Rights

The Supreme Court affirmed that a cinema hall owner has the right to regulate the entry of food and beverage into their establishment. However, it is up to the moviegoer to decide whether or not to consume what is available at the theater. The court emphasized that viewers visit the movie hall for entertainment, and therefore, it is within the theater owner’s business decision to establish rules regarding food and beverage.

Overturning the High Court Order

As a result of this ruling, the Supreme Court overturned a previous order by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which required movie theaters and multiplexes to allow moviegoers to bring their own food and beverages into the theaters. The Supreme Court stated that the High Court had exceeded its jurisdiction in passing such an order. They also noted that movie hall owners typically do not object to a reasonable amount of food for infants, and drinking water is usually provided free of charge.

Arguments Presented to the Court

During the proceedings, several arguments were presented to the Court. KV Viswanathan, a senior advocate, argued that cinema hall owners have the right to control access to their premises, which are not considered public property. He also stated that there is no obligation for moviegoers to purchase food from the theater, but all halls should ensure that clean drinking water is available. The original petitioner in the case argued that the cinema ticket issued by the hall constitutes a contract with the moviegoer, entitling them to eat inside the theater.

The Court’s Decision

After considering the arguments, the Court determined that the fundamental issue at hand was the trade and business of cinema halls. They recognized that rules outlined by the government did not explicitly prohibit bringing outside food into movie theaters. However, they concluded that cinema hall owners have the right to establish terms and conditions in order to carry out their business. The Court highlighted the importance of balancing the rule-making power of the state with the fundamental rights of cinema hall owners to conduct business.

In conclusion, the recent ruling by the Supreme Court grants movie theater owners the right to prohibit moviegoers from bringing outside food and drink into their establishments. This decision aims to protect the business interests of cinema hall owners while still providing reasonable accommodations for moviegoers, such as the provision of drinking water and allowances for food for infants.

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