Free portable drinking water must be provided inside the cinema halls

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): While holding that free portable and pure drinking water must be provided inside the cinema halls, NCDRC directed a Multiplex owner to pay a compensation of Rs 11,000 to the respondents for refusing to allow them to carry a water bottle inside the hall. NCDRC observed that water being a basic necessity for human beings, it is obligatory for the cinema hall to make it available to the movie-goers in case they decide not to allow the drinking water to be carried inside the cinema hall. Earlier, three residents of Agartala were barred from taking a water bottle inside Rupasi Multiplex, and were compelled to buy highly priced mineral water bottles inside. The said multiplex had not made arrangements for free drinking water inside the hall, and was instead providing mineral water which was priced much more than its prevailing market price. Alleging deficiency in service, respondents approached District Consumer Forum but their complaint was dismissed. In appeal State Commission ruled in favour of the respondents. The landmark order of Commission came upon a revision petition filed by the Multiplex challenging the order of Tripura State Consumer Commission vide which the Multiplex was directed to pay Rs.10,000 to the respondents as compensation for the deficiency in the service, along with the cost of litigation quantified at Rs.1000. The multiplex owner was further directed to deposit a sum of Rs.5,000 as cost of appeal in the Legal-Aid-Account of the State Commission. After perusal of relevant documents and hearing both the parties, NCDRC noted “Not everyone may be in a position to afford drinking water at such huge price, which normally is many times more than the price at which such water is available in the market outside the cinema halls.” “The restriction on carrying drinking water inside the cinema hall, where free potable drinking water is not provided to the cinema-goers and they are made to purchase it at a price which is substantially higher than the prevailing market price, would, in our opinion, constitute unfair trade practice within the meaning of Section 2 (r) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986,” the Commission added. Though the Commission directed the Multiplex to pay compensation, it set aside the direction of State Commission to deposit a sum of Rs.5,000 as cost of appeal in the Legal-Aid-Account of the State Commission. [Rupasi Multiplex v. Mautusi Chaudhuri 2015 SCC OnLine NCDRC 2331, decided on 10-8-2015]

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