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HC refuses theatre owners’ plea for urgent hearing on attacks

The Bombay High Court today refused to grant an urgent hearing to the Multiplexes Owners Association, which had approached it over the recent attacks on multiplexes by the members of a political party.

A bench of justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai also refused to issue any directions on the issue today and said the aggrieved parties were free to approach the police in case of any incident of violence against them.

The association moved the court today, seeking that the bench issue directions clarifying that its comments on the need to regulate the prices of food and beverages sold in multiplexes were mere observations and not final directions.

It submitted that some local political parties, particularly the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), had “misconstrued” the court’s observations, made last week, as final orders, and gone about vandalising some multiplexes and assaulting their staff.

The bench, however, said there was no question of a clarification on an order that it was yet to pass.

“When we are yet to pass orders, where does the question of issuing directions or clarifications come from? Those who are aggrieved can print a copy of our last order from the high court’s website and show it to whomever they need to,” the bench said.

“If there is any attack or violence, such multiplexes are free to approach the police and seek appropriate remedy,” it added.

On June 27, the bench had asked the Maharashtra government why could it not regulate the prices of food items being sold at exorbitant rates in multiplexes.

It was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed through advocate Aditya Pratap, challenging the prohibition on carrying outside food items into the film theatres and multiplexes in the state.

“The prices of food and beverages sold in multiplexes are exorbitant. Sometimes, some food articles there are more expensive than even the movie tickets,” the bench had said.

“We understand if the state cannot permit the public to carry food from home. But then, why can’t it step in and regulate the prices of food sold inside the cinema theatres,” it had added.

The court had also directed the state to file an affidavit within four weeks, clarifying its stand on introducing such regulations.

Today, the association sought that in light of the attacks by the MNS workers, an urgent hearing be scheduled for tomorrow.

The bench refused to grant the above request and said the plea would be heard later this month, as per the initial schedule.

On June 30, the Pune police had arrested some MNS workers on charges of assaulting the manager and staff of a multiplex.

Those arrested were identified through a video circulating on the social media, in which they were seen assaulting the multiplex staff and asking them to reduce the prices of food and beverages sold by them.

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