The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that cinema halls are private property and hence the owners are entitled to draw up their own terms and conditions when it comes to sale of food and beverages. The owners can also prohibit the entry of outside food, the court stated.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said that a moviegoer has a choice to not consume the food that is sold in the cinema hall premises.
It was added that the terms and conditions set by the owner should not be contrary to public interest or safety. In this line, the apex court highlighted that parents carrying food and water for their infants are to be exempted from any restriction on the entry of outside food and beverages.
The bench, consisting of Justice PS Narasimha in addition to the CJI, scrapped a Jammu and Kashmir High Court order that had removed the ban on outside food stating that people should not be forced to eat whatever the cinemas serve.
Upholding the cinema owner’s right to conduct fair business within their property, the apex court said, “It needs no emphasis that rule making power of the State has to be in consonance with the fundamental right of cinema hall owner to carry a business trade etc.”
During the ruling, the CJI remarked, “Suppose someone starts getting jalebis inside the movie hall then the theatre’s management can stop them. If the viewer wipes his sticky fingers on the seats, then who will pay for the cleaning? People can also bring tandoori chicken. Then there will be complaints of bones left in the hall. That could also bother people. No one is forcing them to buy popcorn.”