HC seeks govt. responseKochi January 25, 2022 20:05 IST
Theatre owners plea to open cinemas
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday sought the response of the State government to a plea by the Film Exhibitors’ United Organisation of Kerala for allowing to open theatres with 50% occupation, adhering to the COVID protocols.
When the petition came up for hearing before Justice N. Nagaresh, counsel for the petitioners sought to stay the government orders directing to close down theatres. However, the court orally said it would not stay the order for the time being.
In its petition, the organisation and a theatre owner from Thiruvananthapuram pointed out that the Malayalam film industry was in a crisis and had reported a loss of over ₹900 crore. The theatre owners were also the worst hit. In fact, the government had allowed opening of theatres in October 2021 after having closed down theatres for nine months in the wake of the first wave of COVID-19.
The cinemas had thus started functioning with 50% occupancy following the mandatory protocol. However, the government had now imposed certain restrictions including Sunday lockdown in the wake of the surge in COVID cases. The order issued on January 20 said cinema theaters, swimming pools, and gymnasium would not be allowed to function.
The ban on the functioning of theatres was unreasonable and arbitrary as malls, hotels, restaurants, and health clubs attached to hotels and apartment complexes were spared from the restrictions. In fact, toddy shops and bar hotels were allowed to function even in the ‘C’ category districts. The government should have devised a better plan or protocol for curbing the spread of virus and saving entrepreneurs such as theater owners, the petitioner said.