Cinema halls can bar moviegoers from carrying food, beverage inside, Supreme Court rules


The Supreme Court on Tuesday (January 3) ruled that cinema halls owners have the right to prohibit moviegoers from bringing food and beverages from outside into the cinema halls.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha emphasised that a cinema hall is the private property of the owner, who is free to impose whatever terms and conditions he sees fit as long as they are not contrary to public interest or safety.

However, the bench clarified that all cinema halls must provide hygienic drinking water for all moviegoers free of cost in theatres.

Further, it also noted that when an infant or a child accompanies a parent, reasonable amount of food for them can be carried in theatres.

If a person enters a cinema halls, he or she must follow the rules of the theater’s owner, which is clearly a commercial decision, the Court said.

The Supreme Court was hearing a batch of appeals filed by cinema hall owners and the Multiplex Association of India challenging a 2018 verdict of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

The apex court overturned a Jammu and Kashmir High Court order that multiplexes and movie theatres should not prevent moviegoers from bringing their own food and beverages into theatres.

“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,” CJI Chandrachud said.

“A cinema hall owner has the right to regulate the entry of food and beverage. Whether to consume what is available is entirely the choice of the moviegoer. Viewers visit halls for entertainment,” CJI Chandrachud remarked.

The Supreme Court also agreed that the government’s rules did not prohibit bringing food into cinemas from outside.