On Wednesday (June 27th, 2018) the Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government why it could not regulate the prices of food items that are being sold at exorbitant rates in multiplexes across the state.
The matter came for hearing before a bench of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai in a public interest litigation challenging the prohibition on carrying outside eatables inside the cinema halls. The plea has been filed by one Jainendra Baxi, through his lawyer Aditya Pratap.
The court observing that the prices of eatables sold in the cinema halls are often “exorbitant,” directed the state to examine the Bombay Police Act to check if it can be used to regulate prices of these items.
“The prices of food and beverages sold in multiplexes are exorbitant. Sometimes, some food articles there are more expensive than even the movie tickets,” the court said.
“We understand if the state can’t permit the public to carry food from home. But, then why can’t it step in and regulate the prices of food sold inside the cinema theatres,” it said.
The petitioner in his plea claimed that there is no statutory provision that prohibits a person from carrying personal food articles or water inside the cinema hall.
The Multiplexes Owners Association, however, argued through senior counsel Iqbal Chagla that the association could not intervene in the prices fixed by the retailers selling food articles inside the theatre.
Adv. Chagla said that “If I go to a five-star hotel tomorrow, I can’t ask them to reduce the price of the cup of coffee that they are selling. That is because I have made a choice to go to an expensive hotel. Similarly, one makes a choice to visit the multiplex and purchase a glass of cola for Rs 200. Now, I can’t ask the cola company to reduce the price.”
Further, he added that “the public is prohibited from carrying food from home because of security reasons. They are free not to purchase anything for these three hours. Since water is essential, we provide filter and RO water at the theatres for drinking free of cost.”
However, the court reprimanding the association said that “basically, you are compelling the public to purchase and consume what you sell at a price that suits you.”