Laws laid down by supreme court




This had been an issue raised day in and out about selling water at premium rates at places such as restaurants, hotels, airports and cinema halls. Public at large is often confused with the rules and regulations formulated by the government authorities for adhering to MRP system on packed commodities and actual practice of selling .Weight and Measurement Department is to observe and check the compliance of MRP  system . Food Safety and Standard Authority has also made rules and regulations in the year 2011 and also revised the same in 2013 for the packaged goods making it compulsory to print MRP and ingredients / the contents of the packed item 

Apart from above issues which are redressed from time to time by consumer redressal forums and commissions,National commission had an occasion to deal with a case wherein a consumer had raised an objection against prohibting water to the cinema hall. Facts in brief leading to dispute are that complainants purchased tickets for watching a movie at a cinema hall owned by the petitioner on 4.11.2014 , by paying a sum of Rs.330/- They were not allowed to carry drinking water inside the cinema hall, though the ticket contained no prohibition on carrying water inside the cinema hall. Alleging deficiency in the services and adoption of unfair trade practice on the part of the petitioner, they approached the concerned District Forum, seeking compensation from the petitioner.


The opposite party extended their reply primarily taking plea that carrying water inside the hall has been restricted for security reasons since it is not possible for the management of the cinema hall to verify or check whether any restricted liquid had been mixed with the drinking water in the container / bottle. It was also informed by opposite party in reply that water facility was available just near the entry gate of the hall in the lobby.

The District Forum vide its order dated 02.06.2014 dismissed the complaint

The complainant approached the concerned State Commission by way of an appeal. Vide impugned order dated 10.9.2014, the State Commission allowed the appeal and directed the petitioner to pay a sum of Rs.10,000/- to the complainant as compensation for the deficiency in the service, along with the cost of litigation quantified at Rs.1000/-. The petitioner was also directed to pay interest @ 9% per annum with effect from thirty days from the date of the order. The petitioner was further directed to deposit a sum of Rs.5, 000/- as cost of appeal in the Legal-Aid-Account of the State Commission

Hence this revision petition before the National Commission against the order of the State Commission

The issues for discussions before the Commission were –

·         Explanation to the term ‘beverages’ printed on the ticket as prohibited

·         Justification for restriction of water for security reasons

·         Duty of cinema hall in case water not permitted to carry in the hall


While discussing on the first issue, there is disagreement between the parties as to whether the term ‘beverages’ which was printed on the ticket 'not allowed' includes water or not. As per Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, beverage means ‘any type of drink except water’. As per the Free Dictionary available on the Internet, ‘beverages’, does not include water. As per the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, the beverages are liquids specially prepared for human consumption but normally exclude water. In common parlance, beverages comprises juices, soft drinks and carbonated drinks which have some form of water in them but plain water is often not classified as a beverage.

May it be so, the security considerations may prevail upon the cinema owners to prohibit carrying of drinking water from the market inside the cinema hall. Sometime undesirable elements may carry alcoholic drinks or even water mixed with acid inside the cinema halls. There have been reports on bottle bomb devices exploding at theatres leading to evacuation of the theatres. Hence prohibition imposed for carrying water inside the cinema hall is fully justified for the safety of visitors and all others.

But at the same time, it is not expected from the viewers to remain without water for long three hours when children and aged persons are also going to cinema hall. Hence a cinema hall, which seeks to prohibit carrying of drinking water inside the cinema hall for security reasons, must necessarily provide -

·         Free portable and pure drinking water through water coolers installed inside the cinema halls, before such a prohibition can be enforced. An appropriate water purifiers such as Aqua-guards, needs to be installed with the water coolers so that the water available to the cinema-goers free from the impurities.

·         Disposable glasses in sufficient quantity need to be kept available near the water coolers.

·         It has also to be ensured that the water supply is actually available through the water coolers before the movie starts as well as throughout the screening of the movie including interval. 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 the cinema-goers needs to be made available by the owners of the cinema hall.

·         The cinema hall is also required to ensure that the water coolers as well as water purifiers remain fully functional and are regularly serviced from time to time so that only purified water is dispensed through the coolers.

If   the above conditions are not met, the owner of the cinema hall would be liable to pay appropriate compensation for the deficiency in rendering services to the cinema-goers.

It is further held by the Hon’ble commission that mere availability of the drinking water from the cafeteria would not be sufficient to enforce prohibition of carrying drinking water inside the cinema halls.If the drinking water is available for purchase from the Cafeteria of the cinema hall, that would not be enough, considering the high cost of the drinking water sold in the cinema halls. 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. The huge profit which the Cafeteria makes on sale of drinking water at such a price would obviously be shared with the owners of the cinema halls, in the form of license fee for the cafeteria. If the owner of the cinema halls himself is running the cafeteria, the entire profit from sale of drinking water, at such an exorbitant price, would obviously go to him.


In the case before us, it has come in evidence of the complainant that drinking water was actually not available, on the day the cinema hall of the petitioner was visited by the complainants/respondents. No evidence was led by the petitioner to prove actual availability of the portable drinking water, free of cost, to the complainants on the date they watched the movie.

Hon’ble commission upheld the judgment pronounced by the State Commission holding cinema hall deficient in services for the reason water supply on the day complainant went for movie was not functional. However partial order for depositing Rs 5000/- to the consumer welfare fund was set aside.


Dr Prem Lata 

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