Nagpur: The multiplex owners in Nagpur are trying every book in the trick to block entry of outside food items in the theatres. Similar is the situation in all the other cities as the multiplex chains are out to distort the state government’s official announcement taking cue of the petition filed in Bombay High Court. Not only this, parking charges at PVR Empress Mall has also been hiked from August 1, the day from which the ban outside food was supposed to be lifted.
While the parking fee for two-wheeler has been increased to Rs 20 from Rs 15, the charges for four-wheeler has been hiked to Rs 40 from Rs 30. The man at the parking counter said that the rates were altered as per the instructions from Empress Mall authorities.
Meanwhile, the fight between cinema goers and the multiplexes over outside food in theatres is still going on. This, even after the Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ravindra Chavan, in the monsoon session of the state legislature, had announced that there is no ban on bringing outside eatables inside cinema halls and places like food courts under the Maharashtra Cinemas (Regulations) Rules 1966, and the ban on homemade food in multiplexes would be lifted on August 1.
Talking to Nagpur Today, Sunny Sharma, PVR Manager at Empress Mall, said, “What was said in the state legislature was just an individual statement and not an order or decision. We are waiting for the Bombay High Court’s order on the petition to be heard on August 8. Till then, we are not allowing outside food items in the cinema halls.”
Sharma was referring to the public interest litigation no 82 of 2017, filed in Bombay High Court. The PIL of Jainendra Baxi v/s State of Maharashtra demanded to lift ban outside food inside multiplex halls as it is the basic right of an individual.
Sharma however stressed that Bombay High Court has not passed any such order to allow outside food in multiplex movie halls.
Meanwhile the PVR circulated an unsigned draft, a copy of which is with Nagpur Today. The draft stated that Multiplex Association of India (MAI) has become party to the said petition, hearing which, the Bombay High Court sought government’s stand on the matter till August 8, the date of next hearing.
Countering the state government’s decision the said draft, allegedly issued by PVR Cinemas has affirmed its stand stating that it is the fundamental right of multiplex owners to carry on its business. The draft also contended that multiplex owners have taken proper licenses to sell food and beverages. PVR also supported the ban saying that it was also an issue of safety and security as well as of health and hygeine.
Meanwhile, Sandeep Gupta, Duty Officer at Cinemax, Nagpur, a parallel chain of PVR cinemas, told NT that the Government Resolution (GR) has not been issued. “Till we receive it, we cannot allow outside foods in cinema halls. When we will receive instructions from government, we will start allowing outside food”, he said.
The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) said that that none of the multiplex cinema theatres operated by MAI members has received an order, notification or communication about this from the Government of Maharashtra or any other regulatory authority. Earlier, The Bombay High Court while hearing a PIL had asked the Maharashtra government why it could not regulate the prices of food items being sold at exorbitant rates in multiplexes across the state.
Meanwhile, eyebrows are also being raised at state government’s intention in the matter as it was neither taking any action against the multiplex owners disobeying the orders, nor it is coming clear on MAI’s stand.