The high court in Jammu and Kashmir had ordered multiplex and movie theatre operators there not to forbid moviegoers from bringing their own food items and water into the theatres in July 2018, but the Supreme Court of India overturned that decision.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha noted that a movie theatre is the private property of its owner, who is allowed to set its own rules as long as they don’t conflict with the general good, safety, or welfare of the community.
“Viewers visit a cinema hall for the purpose of entertainment. We are clearly of the view that the high court transgressed the limits in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution by ordering and directing the state to ensure that there should be no prohibition on a moviegoer bringing eatables and beverages from outside within the precinct of a cinema hall,” the bench stated.
The Jammu and Kashmir High court’s directive was being contested in a number of petitions before the SC. The bench ruled that it is fully up to the viewer to decide whether or not to watch a movie, and if they do so, they must abide by the terms and conditions under which they are permitted entrance.
It was noted that a moviegoer’s decision as to whether or not to buy food or drinks after being admitted to the theatre was their own. In the representation of one of the appellants, G S Malls Pvt. Ltd., Attorney Sumeer Sodhi contended that the theatre owners’ receipts specifically state that “no outside food is permitted”.
“Now, the regulation of what can be brought, what cannot be brought within the precincts of a private property…. is for the owner of the property to decide, subject to statutory rules which regulate his activity,” the CJI said. “Suppose, somebody starts getting ‘jalebis’ into the cinema hall, the owner could say you eat your ‘jalebis’ and wipe your hands on the seats,” adding, “I am just giving you an example.”