K.C THEATRE V. STATE OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR
Civil appeal no 77 of 2023
Dated :23rd January 2023
Court : The Supreme Court of India
Case no: C.A No -000077-000077/ 2023
Bench: CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha
Petitioners advocate : Abhinav Shrivastava
Respondents advocate: Aditya Sharma
Judgement by : Hon’ble The Chief Justice Of India
- Two practicing lawyers filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in the High court, complaining that cinemas in Jammu and Kashmir were not allowing audience members to bring food into the cinema. Cinema owners were found to have pasted notices in premises of the theatre stating that if movie goers are caught eating outside food, they will be barred from entering the cinema hall.
- Petition that was filed was brought to court was that, as a result of forbidding cinema goers are obliged to consume food and drinks available in the cinema hall at excessively high rates and it was also claimed that the food lacked nutrition.
- As per the High court judgement the court noted that the state has notified the Jammu and Kashmir cinemas (Regulation) rules 1975 the court held that:
- The 1975 rules do not restrict cinema from carrying their own food Articles and water bottles to cinema halls
- Viewers were obliged to buy the “junk” food at the cinema hall by paying excessively high prices
- The restriction on bringing outside food and drinks into the cinema violates the right to choose of food including the right to health, according to the Article 21 of the Constitution
- High court while receiving the complaints issued many directions in the question of the judgement and the order that “Cinema hall owners of the state Jammu and Kashmir are directed not to restrict cinema goers from carrying any food articles and water inside the cinema hall”. Impugned by the Judgements cinema owners filed appeal before supreme court.
- Whether the owner of the cinema hall has right to regulate movie goers to bring food and drinks outside the cinema?
- Whether this restriction of the food and beverages is causing any issue to public health?
- Is the owner of the cinema hall restricting article 21 of the movie goers?
Argument from the Petitioner’s side
- The legal practitioner appearing for the petitioner submitted that limits of the theatre constitute private property over which the authority of the theatre owner is reserved. The Rule 1975 which was created by the state does not state that movie goer should be allowed to carry outside food and drinks within the confines of the movie theaters .
- The practitioner further stated that is forced to attend the theater or buy food. As regarding the drinking water the cinema hall has provided adequate amount of hygienic drinking water through water coolers for free of cost within the limits of the cinema halls.
- The practitioner further argued that the restriction of the outside food or drink it does not apply to infants and toddlers whose parents are allowed to bring reasonable amount of food or drinks.
- The cinema tickets issued by the petitioner’s theatre to movie goers states that eatable from outside as well as bottles are not allowed inside the theatre. The tickets also mentions that the cinema contains the rights of enter.
Arguments from respondent’s side
- Senior practitioner appearing on behalf of the case said that the cinema ticket issued by the cinema hall constitutes a contract with the cinema goers unless there is any prohibition on the printed conditions of the ticket , a cinema goer cannot be prevented from bringing food or drinks into the cinema.
- The practitioner further stated that the ban imposed by the cinema hall puts the cinema goers are placed at the considerable inconvenience as they are obliged to buy food and drinks at excessively high prices. The 1975 rule does not contain any ban on bringing outside food or drinks into the cinema premises.
- The supreme court observed that in this case the state government has framed the 1975 Rules to regulate the industry. Although the 1975 Rules do not contain a rule forcing the owner of the cinema theatre to allow a movie goer to bring food or beverages from outside within the limits of the theatre . The rule making power of the state must be exercised in accordance with the fundamental rights of the cinema owner to run a legitimate profession, trade or business within the meaning of Article 19 Constitution.
- The supreme court said that in the absence any direction in the 1975 rule the high court was not empowered to issue directions and therefore made mistake in executing its writ petition under article 226 of the constitution.
- The supreme court further stated that cinema hall is a private property of the owner. The owner has right to set any conditions as long as it is not contrary to public interest , safety and welfare .
- The supreme court further held that no person who buys ticket are obliged to buy the food from the theatre, so any one is not prevented from exercising their right to the choice of food .
DEFECTS OF LAW
One of the main defect in this case is that the provisions mentioned under the Jammu and Kashmir cinemas (Regulation) rules 1975 is ambiguous. Clear interpretation will give clarity to this case avoiding any confusions regarding the rules under cinema .
Further this also contradicts the constitution itself so hence implementation of clear framework and policies regarding cinema. The lack of clarity in the judgement is due to lack of backed up provisions and rules under this case.
The more in depth formation of rule might have given more clarity t this case.
The supreme court verdict was that high court violated its power under article 226 of the constitution by ordering the cinema hall owners to not prohibit cinema goers from bringing food or drinks from outside into the cinema premises.
The supreme court said that if an infant or toddler is accompanied by a parent the cinema shall have no objections .
In the absence of a legal regulation that would regulate the right to operate cinema halls, the imposition of such a restriction would affect the legitimate rights of the theater owner.
Thus the cinema hall owners has given a right to choice and no pressure is enforced on the movie goers to buy food except the exceptions of the infants and children. The supreme court’s judgement saved the profession of the cinema hall owner but also keeping in mind the health and safety of the movie goers which created a huge impact in the entertainment industries.
Hence the cinema hall owner despite of all the contradictions bound to follow the judgement of the SC thus ending the massive dispute of cinema regarding the terms and conditions of the cinema hall .[i]
VIVEKANAND EDUCATION SOCIETY COLLEGE OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF MUMBAI ,MUMBAI.
[i] LIVE LAW IN , https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/38-kc-cinema-v-state-of-jammu-and-kashmir-3-jan-2023-454257.pdf ( last visited on Aug 17th 2023 )
ii INDIA CONST . art 19,cl2
iii INDIA CONST.art21,cl2
iv INDIA CONST.art226,cl2
vi Jammu and Kashmir cinemas (Regulation) rules ,1975