MAI welcomes SC stay on J&K HC order for taking food inside cinemas

New Delhi : The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) has welcomed the decision of The Supreme Court that stayed a Jammu and Kashmir High Court order permitting moviegoers to carry their own eatables and beverages inside theatres.

"We are satisfied by the interim direction of the Honourable Supreme Court of India, staying the above order of the Honourable High Court of Jammu and Kashmir," Deepak Asher, President of the Multiplex Association of India, said in a statement.

"We have always maintained that allowing patrons to bring in their own food and beverages inside cinema theatres, besides infringing upon the fundamental rights of multiplex and cinema operators to carry on business, and being violative of the contractual agreement between the patron and the cinema operator, has serious implications for safety and security as well as health and hygiene.

"The stay granted by the Honourable Supreme Court reinforces the established business practice followed by cinemas across the world, and also similar practices followed by other establishments and businesses like amusement parks, entertainment centres, sports stadia, restaurants, hotels, etc," he added.

A bench of Justice Rohinton F. Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra wanted to know whether there are any statutory provisions to put restrictions on carrying of outside food inside cinemas.

The court asked Sidharth Anand, who filed the PIL before the High Court, to file a response to the appeal against the impugned order and posted the matter for hearing after six weeks.

Last month, the High Court had said that moviegoers cannot be forced by multiplexes and cinema hall owners to purchase food, water and beverages from the theatre premises nor can they be prohibited from carrying food items into malls and multiplexes.

The High Court said that such acts on the part of multiplex/cinema hall owners are against the right to choice of food, including the right not to eat junk food and right to good health, which comes under the purview of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

In the top court, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Multiplex Association of India, told the bench that the High Court order was wrong and if the order was replicated across the country, there will be a complete breakdown of these private entities.

Seeking a stay on the High Court order, Rohatgi asked if he could be allowed to carry his own whiskey into the Taj hotel and order soda there.