The AP High Court quashed a GO issued by the state government fixing rates of admission in cinema theatres.
“The GO 181 dated July 11, 2011 is discriminatory and the rates fixed are not based on any reasonable classification.
Such classification would amount to treating the dissimilar theatres as one and violate the rights enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution”, it observed.
While allowing a batch of writ petitions filed by the theatre owners, justice R Subhash Reddy quashed the impugned GO and directed the government to constitute a fresh committee within six weeks with chief secretary as chairperson and other members deemed fit and proper to suggest the factors to be considered while fixing the rates.
The judge, in his common order, said the committee is requested to submit its recommendations within a period of two months with regard to the classification of theatres and for fixation of admission rates for different classes of theatres.
On receipt of the committee’s recommendations, the government shall issue necessary orders within four weeks.
Till appropriate fresh orders are issued, the rates notified in the impugned GO shall continue to operate, the judge ruled.
The petitioners contended that all the theatres in the specified municipalities or corporations cannot be put in one category and the cost of running a theatre depends on the location of theatre, facilities and other factors.
The theatres cannot be classified merely on the single feature of them being air-conditioned or not.
While quashing the GO, the judge observed that there are corporations like Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and others which cannot be compared with small towns.
The judge said the classification of theatres should be based on their location and facilities provided such as parking area, quality of sound system, quality of screening etc.
The judge further said the land values in cities are much higher when compared to towns.
However, the court is conscious of the fact that the petitioners, who are running isolated theatres, cannot seek the rates of admission as applicable for multiplexes, he said.