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Maharashtra changes stand, says allowing outside food in multiplexes is a security threat

The state government cited rule 101 of the Maharashtra Cinema (Regulations) Rule 1966 which allows restrictions on carrying food items inside multiplexes for security reasons. 

File image (Shutterbugs Images)

Keyur Seta

The government of Maharashtra was supposed to file an affidavit in the Bombay high court today on whether patrons can be allowed to take food inside multiplexes.

A Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson had said last month that the government had announced on the floor of the state assembly that outside food would be allowed in multiplexes.

But when the court resumed hearing the public interest petition today, the government took a contrary stand. In its affidavit, it said patrons carrying outside food inside multiplexes poses a security threat.

Advocate Aditya Pratap, who represents filmmaker and petitioner Jainendra Baxi, said, “The state government had made a statement in the assembly that people can carry their own food inside. Now they suddenly take a U-turn and say that if people carry their own food, it’s a security threat!

"In fact, they have gone ahead and said people should write instead to the multiplex managements and ask them to reduce prices. This is not what we asked for.

“We want them to say people should have a right to carry their food inside cinema theatres. This is a breach of privilege. You have broken your own undertaking made in the august house.”

Citing the example of other public places, the lawyer argued, “When you go to the airport, you can carry your own food inside, when the security is far more serious, whereas you don’t allow it in a cinema hall?

"The CISF [Central Industrial Security Force], which provides security at the airport, is a government agency. It doesn’t fill the pockets of the airports by throwing out food. But multiplexes have private security whose only task is to throw out food and force people to buy at exorbitant prices."

The matter will now be heard in the beginning of next month. “I will be filing my counter to the affidavit," Aditya Pratap said. "I will say it is illegal and barred by law. The court will hear the matter again on 3 September.”

The affidavit submitted by advocate Venkatesh Madhav Bhat on behalf of the government said, “Although there is no specific provision in the Maharashtra Cinema (Regulations) Rules 1966 to prohibit viewers to take their own food or water inside cinema theatres, the licensing authority is competent under rule 101 to put terms and conditions and restrictions on establishment owners to ensure the safety and security of viewers which are of vital importance.

"As per the opinion of the director general of police, carrying own food may create chaos and lead to a security issue. As the licence is given as per rule 101 of the said act, no condition can be put up on the ticket, which is not envisaged in the Maharashtra Cinema (Regulations) Rules 1966.”