Cinemagoers in Maharashtra will soon be able to carry their own food into the movie theatres. At present, even water bottles are not allowed inside the movie theatres and customers are compelled to buy snacks at high prices from the counters inside the movie halls.
But things are set to change from August. The announcement from the government came in the monsoon session of the Maharashtra Assembly after the Bombay High Court in June directed the state government to file an affidavit on what steps it is taking to regulate prices of food items at multiplexes.
The court had observed that the prices are often exorbitant and sometimes more than the cost of the ticket while hearing a petition filed by filmmaker Jainendra Baxi. The petitioner had asked the court to allow the moviegoers to bring their own food in the theatres.
Mr Baxi's lawyer Advocate Aditya Pratap told NDTV, "The government made the announcement after the high court's order in which we had moved a petition and this is the right step. Fleecing of customers will stop with this order. The manner in which customers were exploited was unfair and we believe that the right to carry your own food is a fundamental right under article 21 of the constitution."
State Food Supplies Minister Ravindra Chavan while announcing the government's decision has said in the Maharashtra Assembly that the government will take action against theatre employees and owners who do not comply with the order.
NCP leader Dhananjay Munde had earlier asked the government to clarify if outside food was permitted inside theatres.
"In multiplexes, people are forced to buy what is on offer and we had raised this issue in the Assembly. Now from August 1 people will be allowed to bring in their own food according to the government's order," Mr Munde told reporters.
The state government has also clarified that it will also ask theatre owners to reduce the prices of food items sold inside the premises of multiplexes which mean that food items will be sold at MRPs and priced exorbitantly.
Meanwhile, after the order, stocks of multiplex companies took a hit. Shares of India's largest multiplex company, PVR Limited, fell by nearly 13 per cent and closed at Rs 1214.20. Shares of Inox Leisure were also down by 11.5 percent.
Multiplexes make a lot of profit from the sale of snacks as they are sold at very high prices and the order is likely to affect their income from the sale of food.