AHMEDABAD: A public interest litigation in high court on Wednesday sought directions to multiplexes to permit movie goers to enter cinema halls with food and water brought with them.

The PIL has taken exception to the present prohibition imposed by multiplexes on carrying eatables and water for the movie goers. The petitioners, Sanjeev Ezhava and Arpit Shukla from Surat, have also complained that the multiplexes sell food inside their premises at exorbitant rates, and demanded that this practice be stopped. They have sought HC directions to the authorities to remove all food stalls and food lounges from the multiplex premises.

The PIL contended that the multiplexes are minting money by restraining movie goers from carrying their own food and water and selling junk food to them at exorbitant rates. The practice is harmful for the health of young and elder people, especially those who are diabetic.

The petitioners claimed that the practice of not allowing outside food and water inside a cinema hall is without any legal basis. The Gujarat Cinema Rules, 2014 does not have such provision. In fact, the rules do not permit hawking, taking order and supplying food and beverages inside cinema hall. Hence, the food lounge and stalls should be removed from multiplex premises.

The petitioners quoted a criminal complaint filed before Surat police after one of the petitioners was restrained from taking food inside cinema hall in July 2018. Cops filed a closure report without investigating the episode.

The PIL demands regular inspection by authorities of multiplexes and cinema halls under the provisions of the Gujarat Cinema (Regulation) Act, 2004. They have argued that mere collection of entertainment tax and Goods & Service Tax (GST) is not enough, but the concerned authorities must discharge their duty by implementing law in the interest of people and stop the illegal practice.

The PIL has also demanded measures by multiplexes for fire safety and to deal with emergency situation. It seeks directions for multiplexes to provide elevators for audience at the time of their exit the way they are provided at the time of entry. A short documentary should be shown in the beginning of the show to avert Uphaar Cinema like tragedy, said petitioners’ advocate Vishal Dave.

The HC has decided to take up this PIL for hearing next week.

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