Published: 27th August 2018
Should we tolerate multiplex extortion? Why you can't compel an entire family to consume junk food
It observed that the state’s affidavit said there was no specific law or statutory provision that restrained people from carrying outside food into cinema halls
"Fast food is popular because it’s convenient, it’s cheap, and it tastes good. But the real cost of eating fast food never appears on the menu." — Eric Schlosser, American journalist and author
According to a report in The New Indian Express (9/8/18), the Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government to explain how permitting people to carry food from outside into multiplexes could pose a security threat. A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai were responding to the State Government’s affidavit filed in the High Court that it does not deem it necessary to interfere with the ban on outside food in multiplexes, as it may create ‘chaos’ or ‘security issues’.
The Bench, however, noted that people were not prohibited from carrying food from home or from any other place to other public spots. It observed that the state’s affidavit said there was no specific law or statutory provision that restrained people from carrying outside food into cinema halls. What security concern could possibly rise by food inside theatres? People are not prohibited from carrying food to any other public places besides cinema halls, the court said.
“If people can be permitted to carry home food inside an aircraft, then why not to theatres?” the Bench sought to know. “Also, you (the government) yourself have said that there is no specific legal provision behind such prohibition. So, what kind of security problems are you anticipating?” it asked.
The court also dismissed the argument of Iqbal Chagla, representing the Multiplexes Owners’ Association, that one could not cite his fundamental right to seek that he or she be allowed to carry food inside theatres. The price of food sold inside multiplexes is a commercial decision, but the prohibition on outside food is because of security reasons, he said.
“The food sold inside multiplexes is priced exorbitantly. Also, by prohibiting people from carrying food from home, you are compelling entire families to consume junk food,” the Bench said.
The Bench has been hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed through advocate Aditya Pratap, seeking that the prohibition on outside food in multiplexes be revoked. (The judgment is yet to be delivered)
According to a related report (10/8/18) in a landmark verdict against violations of consumer rights at multiplexes and cinemas, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Vijayawada ordered multiplex managements to allow packaged water, soft drinks and food brought by movie-goers from outside into cinemas. The State’s Controller of Legal Metrology was asked to enforce the orders. The Forum was delivering a combined verdict in five similar complaints registered by five activists and the city’s Consumer Guidance Society in May 2017 against dual MRP.