Paying almost double or even triple the normal rates for food at multiplexes isn’t something new to the Indian crowd. We’ve come to accept it as that is how things are even when it is a distasteful ordeal for most. With that being the scenario, the Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, has questioned the government of Maharashtra as to why there is no regulation of prices, stating that food items were often sold at “exorbitant” rates at multiplexes across the state.
“The prices of food and beverages sold in multiplexes are exorbitant. Sometimes, some food articles there are more expensive than even the movie tickets,” the bench said bench that comprised of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai who went on to direct the state towards examining the Bombay Police Act to see if it could be used to regulate rates.
“Why can’t the government step in?”
“We understand if the state can’t permit the public to carry food from home. But then, why can’t it step in and regulate the prices of food sold inside the cinema theatres?” the bench questioned. This was during the hearing of a public interest petition by Jainendra Baxi that has challenged the ban on carrying outside food items inside movie theatres and multiplexes across the state. Baxi, who has filed his PIL through lawyer Aditya Pratap, claims that there is no legal or statutory provision that prohibits people from carrying personal food articles or water inside theatres.
The Multiplexes Owners Association, that argued through senior counsel Iqbal Chagla, said that the prices were fixed by retailers and the association will be unable to intervene. “If I go to a five-star hotel tomorrow, I can’t ask them to reduce the price of the cup of coffee that they are selling. That is because I have made a choice to go to an expensive hotel. Similarly, one makes a choice to visit the multiplex and purchase a glass of cola for Rs 200. Now, I can’t ask the cola company to reduce the price,” Telegraph India reported Chalga as saying.
State to file an affidavit
“And the public is prohibited from carrying food from home because of security reasons. They are free not to purchase anything for these three hours. Since water is essential, we provide filter and RO water at the theatres for drinking free of cost,” he added.
“Basically, you (the association and multiplex owners) are compelling the public to purchase and consume what you sell at a price that suits you,” the bench said, adding that senior citizens or those suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes, who will have to eat at regular intervals and can’t have what is sold at the theatres will suffer a great deal in the current scenario.
The bench directed the state to file an affidavit within four weeks and explain what necessary regulations are going to be introduced. This could very well be the start of such regulations for all other states as well, or so we can hope.