Cinemas must provide free 3D glasses, says panel

The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has held that the owner or proprietor of cinemas cannot collect additional amount for providing 3D glasses for viewing 3D films.

The commission, headed by Justice K. Surendra Mohan, observed that if 3D glasses were necessary for the better viewing of a 3D movie, it was imperative that they were supplied for free to the viewer.

The commission made the ruling while disposing of an appeal from the proprietor of Remya Theatre in Thiruvananthapuram against the district forum’s order directing the proprietor to pay ₹10,000 as compensation to N.R. Ravi Krishnan, complainant, for collecting additional amount for 3D glasses. On October 28, 2013, the complainant had gone to the cinema to watch an English 3D movie Gravity. He was forced to pay an extra ₹30 for the 3D spectacles. He said the spectacles were kept in a plastic cover after use and were issued to the viewers of the next show without being sterilised. He also complained that no bill was given to him for payment of ₹30. The complainant alleged that charging of ₹30, more than half the ticket price, as rent for the spectacles amounted to restrictive trade practice.

Confirming the findings of the district forum, the commission held that that the action of the proprietor amounted to a serious violation of the rights of the consumer. “In the process, the opposite party(theatre proprietor) would have extracted a tidy sum of money, without providing any consequential benefit to the consumer who has availed the use thereof.”

The commission added that collection of such amounts by individual theatre owners would give room for exploitation of the consumers. “We are, therefore, of the considered view that the amount of compensation and punitive damages granted by the district forum are justified and reasonable.”

However, the commission vacated a directive of the district forum that charges for use of the 3D glasses could be collected from viewers who require the glasses after publishing a notice to the effect.

The commission pointed out that “any such permission to extract additional charges” would not be in the interests of the consumers. Most consumers may not consider it worthwhile to litigate for small amounts like ₹30. The rent for the 3D spectacles was being recovered over and above the ticket charges, for which no entertainment tax had admittedly been paid, the commission noted.

Proprietor’s stance

The proprietor had contended that it was for the protection of the eyes that special spectacles were issued to viewers along with the tickets. It had to be returned after viewing. The proprietor did not compel anyone to take 3D glasses on rent. The 3D glasses, collected after each show, were reused only after sterilisation. Besides, it was not necessary to issue a bill for supplying 3D glasses on rent. No negligence or deficiency in service was committed by the opposite party.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 9:18:04 AM |

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