It is mandatory for cinema halls to provide “free, potable and pure drinking water” to moviegoers, in case they do not permit visitors to carry water bottles into the premises, the Madras High Court observed, during a hearing on Monday.
According to a Bar and Bench report, Justice SM Subramaniam made the ruling in a 2016 petition moved by one G Devarajan, who filed the plea after he was charged more than the MRP (Maximum Retail Price) at a food counter in S2 Cinemas in Tamil Nadu.
While the judge acknowledged that theatre owners may prohibit outside water into their premises for security and safety reasons – to avoid the possibility of miscreants carrying alcohol, acid, or “bottle bomb devices,” for instance – he also observed that cinema halls should provide free drinking water through water coolers.
“Mere availability of the drinking water would not be sufficient to enforce a prohibition of carrying drinking water inside the cinema halls. Purified drinking water with prescribed standards must be provided, so as to satisfy the requirements,” the court order said, further adding that theatres must ensure that “drinking water facilities are provided all the times to the cinema-goers in the hall.”
The court stressed the need to install water purifiers, and ensure sufficient availability of disposable cups.
The order further said the purifiers should remain fully functional and serviced. Failing this, the premise owner will be held liable for not providing the mandatory service to patrons.
The court also noted that the water should be available before and through the movie screenings, and in instances where water supply is unavailable on a particular day, an alternative source has to be provided free of cost.
It was also observed that regular periodic checks should be undertaken to ensure the water met the standards prescribed.
The judge ruled that the authorities must ensure that purified drinking water facilities are adequately provided in cinema theatres within two months from the date of receiving a copy of the order. He further added that authorities must also ensure that clean and hygiene toilet facilities are provided on the premises.