MUMBAI: In a great relief for the cinema lovers, the Maharashtra government on Friday made it clear that while there can not be any ban on carrying outside eatables to the theatres, strict action would be taken against overcharging multiplexes from August 1.
The Bombay High Court had last week lashed out at the state government while hearing a petition regarding exorbitant rates for food items charged at the multiplexes across the state.
Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) too had launched an agitation against such multiplex chains over the issue.
Leader of opposition in the state legislative council Dhananjay Munde had raised questions in the house over the issue through a calling attention motion.While replying to the motion, Minister of State for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Ravindra Kadam made it clear that under article 121 of the Maharashtra Cinema Hall rules of 1966 movie goers can not be prevented from carrying own food and water in the cinema halls.
He also said that those who are found selling food items at rates more than that of the MRP can be prosecuted under Legal Metrology Rules of 2009 and Legal Metrology (packaged foods) Rules of 2011. He assured that house that strict implementation of these rules would be ensured from August 1 onwards.
"The Home department will decide within six weeks, a policy on taking action against such multiplexes and malls," Chavan announced on the floor of the House. He also announced that as per Central government's policy, the MRP of items will have to be uniform at all places.
However, soon after the announcement, the MNS and the Nationa;ist Congress Party (NCP) were seen claiming credit for the relief. While MNS said that it had started agitation over the issue, NCP said that the government had to announce the decision since the question was raised by their leader Dhananjay Munde.
While moviegoers were thrilled with the news, shares of multiplex companies tanked after the news as about 25-30 percent of multiplex revenue comes from food and beverages.
Shares of India's largest multiplex, PVR Ltd, dived nearly 10 percent at Rs 1259.60, losing Rs 137.60. PVR stock finally settled at Rs 1214.20, down over 13 percent, while shares of Inox Leisure was trading at Rs 223.35, down 11.5 percent and Mukta Arts slipped to Rs 42.50, or lower by 2.41 percent.
Inox share closed at Rs 238.70. Multiplex owners are also likely to move to court over the issue, sources have said.