Case Analysis – KC Cinema v. J&k

The Supreme Court (KC Cinema v. J&K) has held that the J&K HC was wrong in holding those cinema halls’ could not prohibit customers from bringing in outside food.

The Judgment is categorical in its protection of the A.19(1)(g) right to carry on business, holding that “Like with any other business, the [cinema-hall owner] is entitled to determine the business model … and give effect to their conceptions of the economic viability of a … business model. [She] is entitled to determine whether she will set up … counters for … sale of [F&B] and to regulate the terms [of] sale.”

The Court also depicts a keen understanding of business and, specifically, the film exhibition space –holding that the cinema hall should now be perceived not simply as a space to watch a movie but instead as an ‘entertainment center’ or ‘entertainment bundle’. The Court noted that “[o]f late, …movie halls are not … envisaged solely as places where movies are screened… [as]… The sale of … [F&B] forms a portion of the … package of entertainment available… In other words, [it] is not a movie hall alone but … doubles up as an eatery…”.

Also, the Court –  in line with Kaushal Kishor – did not hold that directions could not be issued to private cinemas, but instead that the directions were contrary to the legislative mandate and, hence, not justified. Finally, the Court struck an amusingly simple balance between competing fundamental rights claims’– holding that A.19(1)(g) rights of cinema-hall owners to sell food of their choice trumped A.21 claims of movie-watchers to healthy food since the customers could simply refrain from eating the food on offer!

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