The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to explain how permitting moviegoers to carry food into multiplexes and theatres could pose a security threat. A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai observed that people were allowed to carry eatables to all public places other than movie theatres, the Hindustan Times reported.
The court was reacting to the state government’s affidavit, filed on Tuesday, which said it did not think it was fit to tamper with the ban on bringing outside food to multiplexes as it might create “chaos” or “security issues”.
However, the Maharashtra government had told the Assembly in July that it would allow moviegoers to carry their own food items inside theatres from August 1.
“What kind of security concern can be caused by food inside theatres?” the bench asked. “If people can be permitted to carry home food inside aircrafts, then why not theatres?”
The court observed that even the state government’s affidavit said there was no particular law that prevented bringing food to movie halls. “You [the government] yourself have said there is no specific legal provision behind such prohibition,” said the bench. “So, what kind of security problems are you anticipating?”
The state government was responding to a public interest litigation by Mumbai resident Jainendra Baxi, who has challenged the ban on food items brought in to movie halls. Baxi’s petition states that the ban went against the fundamental right to life of senior citizens and those who are medically vulnerable as they are prohibited from carrying food and water into theatres. It also claims there is no legal or statutory provision prohibiting people from carrying personal food items into film theatres.
The High Court also dismissed the plea of lawyer Iqbal Chagla, representing the Multiplexes Owners’ Association, which contended that people should not be allowed to carry food inside theatres citing their fundamental right. Chagla argued that one never knew what people might carry “in the shape of food”, said PTI. He added that multiplexes also provide free drinking water to moviegoers.
“World over, there is a prohibition on carrying food from outside into cinema halls, theatres, but in New York, Paris, and London no one complains,” he claimed. “Tomorrow, citizens here will cite their fundamental right and want to carry their own drinks to the Taj hotels or other restaurants.”
But the court dismissed the argument, saying there was no comparison between hotels and movie theatres. “We are only on the issue of security since that is the state’s main argument,” said the bench.