Free drinking water to be supplied in theatres : NCDRC

Lata Jain

National consumer court ruled on Thursday that movie theatres were obligated to provide free drinking water facilities inside halls. Water has really become expensive in theatres and for security reasons malls and theatres do not allow bottles of drinking water from outside. With this decision cinema goers can heave a sigh of relief as they will not have to buy expensive water.

Water being a basic necessity for human beings, it is obligatory for cinema halls to make it available to moviegoers if they don’t allow drinking water to be carried inside halls. In fact, a moviegoer may even faint if he does not get water in time,” the commission said. Not everyone may be in a position to afford it at “exorbitant rates”, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has ruled.

The NCDRC order came on an appeal filed by Agartala-based Rupasi Multiplex against the Tripura State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission decision that had said not providing free drinking water to movie goers amounted to deficiency of service.

A movie watcher may include people of all age groups as well as the children for whom it would be difficult to manage without water for three hours or more. There are the aged who visit theatres.

“The 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,” NCDRC bench said. The bench was headed by Justice V.K.Jain.

The commission said if theatre owners compel consumers to buy expensive bottles from their cafeteria, they would be held liable for unfair trade practices.

“Not everyone may be in a position to afford drinking water at such a huge price, which normally is many times more than the price at which such water is available in the market outside the cinema halls. Therefore, he will be compelled to pay an exorbitant price for a basic necessity such as drinking water,” it said.

The commission directed the theatres to ensure arrangement of safe and pure drinking water, coolers and disposable glasses to meet the need of the people visiting the theatre.

If for any reason, water supply is not available on a particular day, alternative arrangements for supply of free pure and portable drinking water to cinema-goers need to be made available by the owners of the cinema hall,” it said.

The bench said if the directions were not complied with, the owner of cinema hall would be liable to pay appropriate compensation for the deficiency in rendering services to the cinema-goers.

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