Karnataka HC strikes down govt order: No Rs 200 cap on movie tickets on weekends, holidays

Your weekend movie plans won’t be affordable now. Less than 10 days after the state government ordered capping price of movie tickets at Rs 200, the Karnataka High Court on Thursday ruled that the ord

Published: 12th May 2017 06:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th May 2017 06:35 AM   |  A+A-

Imax theatre. Representational image. (File | AP)

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Your weekend movie plans won’t be affordable now. Less than 10 days after the state government ordered capping price of movie tickets at Rs 200, the Karnataka High Court on Thursday ruled that the order will not apply on weekends and government holidays.

In its interim order, the court said the Rs 200 cap on tickets for all language movies in multiplexes and single screen theatres across the state won’t apply on Saturday,  Sunday and state holidays.

Justice P S Dinesh Kumar passed the interim order after hearing the petition filed by FICCI-Multiplex Association of India and Deepak Asher, director of Inox Leisure Ltd, challenging the May 2 government order fixing ceiling on movie ticket price.

Uday Holla, senior counsel representing the Multiplex Association, argued that the government’s order is without jurisdiction, as the deputy commissioner is the regulating authority of theatres and multiplexes as per the Karnataka Cinemas (Regulation) Act. The Association, in its letter to the government on March 23 after the ceiling was announced in the budget, agreed to a price cap on condition that it will not apply during weekends and state holidays. However, it was not considered by the state, he argued.

He argued that a common price was fixed for tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Therefore, the price of movie tickets was uniform in Bengaluru and tier-2 cities like Mysuru and Belagavi. He said the order was an impediment to the rights of the petitioner and violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Countering this, Additional Advocate General Shivanna argued that the members of the Multiplex Association accepted the common price which was fixed in the interest of general public in the meeting conducted by the government. The exemption given during weekends and holidays was rejected in the same meeting. The government has powers to fix price of movie tickets, he justified.

The judge, observed that going to movies is the discretion of people. If the state wanted to fix prices, it has to respect the condition of the multiplex body. The government can file its objections in four weeks.

In the petition explaining the impact of price cap in neighbouring states, the Multiplex Association contended that three multiplexes were constructed in Karnataka during 2016-17 and the total entertainment tax generated by Karnataka was over Rs 84.62 crore. Similarly, the entertainment tax generated by Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, where the ticket price was regulated for many years, was Rs 13.66 crore, Rs 14.50 crore and Rs 26.01 crore, respectively.

The association contended that the government’s order was a violation of fundamental rights and would hit the profits.

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