The court was hearing a 2016 petition filed by G Devarajan, who had objected to a food stall in Tamil Nadu’s S2 cinemas charging high prices for water and juice -- higher than the maximum retail price or MRP charged for the product in outside markets.
Cinema halls in India: Cinema halls are known to be places where food is overpriced, and water from outside is prohibited. Viewers are expected to pay hefty prices even to get water during the course of the movie. However, now, the Madras High Court has taken a stand that could provide relief to cinema-goers. The court said that in case cinema halls are banning people from carrying their own water, then they had to provide free, pure and potable drinking water to the cinema-goers. According to a report in IE, the court also noted that the cinema halls could prohibit visitors from carrying water due to security reasons.
The court was hearing a 2016 petition filed by G Devarajan, who had objected to a food stall in Tamil Nadu’s S2 cinemas charging high prices for water and juice — higher than the maximum retail price or MRP charged for the product in other markets outside of the cinema halls.
Hence, the court ordered that a cinema hall that sought to ban visitors from carrying water from outside had to arrange for free-of-cost potable and pure drinking water via water coolers in the cinema halls, and only then would they be able to implement such a ban. The cinema halls have also been directed by the court to ensure that such drinking water facilities remain available at all times in the cinema halls, likely so that lack of water in the cooler is not used as an excuse to force customers into purchasing water. The establishments have also been ordered to install water purifiers inside the water cooler to ensure that the free water did not carry any impurities. A sufficient number of disposable glasses also need to be provided near the water cooler as per the direction of the court.
Cinema halls would also need to ensure that the water purifiers inside the water coolers were fully functional and that they were serviced at regular intervals. The water is to be available at all times – before the screening of the movie begins and for the entire duration that the movie is being screened, including the interval. Moreover, in case there is any particular day when water supply is not available in the water cooler for any reason, the cinema halls will have to make alternative arrangements.
Any violation of the order would lead to the cinema hall owner being held liable and having to pay compensation for deficiency in providing service to cinema-goers.
Apart from the cinema halls and establishments, authorities have also been directed by the court to ensure that periodic inspections are conducted at movie theatres to check whether public amenities like drinking water facilities, toilets etc are maintained in a proper manner or not.