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Maharashtra government passed an order to allow outside food in mutiplexes, confirms BJP spokesperson

However, a source closely associated with the Multiplex Association of India questioned the legality of such an order.

Mayur Lookhar

Filmmaker Jainendra Baxi had filed a PIL in the Bombay high court against the prohibition on carrying outside food in cinema halls.

The issue of high food prices at multiplexes,too, has been in the debate for the past few days, with a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena worker even assaulting a multiplex executive at PVR Icon in Pune.

Acting on Baxi's PIL, the high court asked the state government to look into the issue and submit a reccomendation within six weeks to regulate food prices in cinema halls in Maharashtra.

The matter was discussed in the state assembly today (13 July) and the Maharasthra government passed an order allowing patrons to carry outside food in cinema halls. Confirming the news, Shaina NC, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson told us, “The government has passed such an order in the Nagpur State Assembly today.”

When asked whether the government has set a time frame for its implementation, NC replied, “It will be implemented shortly, because it has been passed in legislative assembly.”

According to Mirror Now, a news channel, the order will be in force from 1 August onwards.

However, a source closely associated with the Multiplex Association of India questioned the legality of such an order. “Now since the matter is sub judice, how can the government pass an order?. As far I know, the issues was raised by an opposition member in the house and the concerned minister answered it. All that was said that was there is no provision that stops from customers from taking food into cinema. The government first has to give its opinion [and] frame a policy in this regard.”

We reminded the source that a BJP spokesperson has confirmed the passing of such an order, but the source downplayed the news. “Political parties just to want take credit of having done this. They forget the legality of such issues. The government is well within its rights to pass such an order, but when the matter is sub judice, the government has to be abide by the decorum of the court,” the source replied.

In a conversation with us on 6 July, Prakash Chapal, secretary of the association, had claimed that the food prices at multiplexes are not as high as in restaurants, adding that multiplex owners are forced to have a restaurant inside a cinema hall.

"Basically our prices are not high as compared to a big restaurant that sells samosas at Rs140. But we charge around Rs100. More importantly, it was obligatory under the multiplex policy for us to have a restaurant inside a cinema hall. So, I am not only a cinema operator but a restaurateur as well. We are just fulfilling the condition. And it is possibe to control your hunger for a duration of just two hours,” he had said.

The issue is presently heating up in Maharasthra. According to the source, if patrons are allowed to carry outside food in theatres in Maharashtra, then the law should not be restricted to only one state.

"In Delhi, the multiplex owners cited the issue of security for not permitting outside food in tiffin. So, if security is an issue for not allowing outside food in Delhi, then why should the same be applied in Maharashtra. If it is illegal in the capital, then how is it not illegal in Mumbai?" questioned the source.

The matter will next come up for discussion on 27 July. “The next date for discussion is 27 July. If things don’t go right, then the multiplex association will go to the Supreme Court too,” concluded the source.