HC restrains AP from sale of film tickets online
Deccan Chronicle.| dc correspondent
The court observed that the issues raised by the petitioners needed to be studied in detail and heard at length
Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday restrained the state government from the sale of film tickets online, and posted the case for final hearing on July 27. (Representational Image/ PTI)
Vijayawada: In an interim order, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday restrained the state government from the sale of film tickets online, and posted the case for final hearing on July 27.
A division bench of Chief Justice Prashant Mishra and Justice DVSS Somayajulu heard a batch of petitions challenging the state government’s decision to allow sale of tickets online through its web portal Your Screens.
The court observed that the issues raised by the petitioners needed to be studied in detail and heard at length. It is necessary to check whether the state under AP Cinema Regulation Act, 1955 was having the power to regulate these incidental services, which were being provided to the cinema-goers by the third party aggregators and others, the court said.
The court also wanted to find out whether the rate of admission includes the service charge.
The court opined that greater harm would be caused to the petitioners if the interim order was not granted. It said the petitioners would run the risk of their licences being cancelled if they failed to migrate into the new system by the cut-off date.
The court opined that the existing state of things must be preserved for now.
Petitioners’ counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the AP government introduced Section 5 A in the Act in which every licensee was obligated to sell the cinema tickets through an online ticket platform of the government company only on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed.
Multiplex Association of India’s counsel Mohan Reddy argued that the AP Cinema Regulation Act permitted monopolization of the online cinema ticketing by the AP government. It said Section 5 A of the Act was ultra vires.
Exhibitors’ Association counsel Ashwani Kumar argued that there was no justification to compel the regular single screen and double screen exhibitors to use the only portal crated by the government. This was a "clear breach of the petitioners’ fundamental right under Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution of India."
Advocate general Sriram argued that the whole exercise was meant to control black-marketing, evasion of taxes etc. If the state government intended to completely prohibit the petitioners from carrying on their business, they might feel aggrieved. However, in this case, the petitioners were permitted to continue their online business and the state was providing an integrated system alongside, so that the public is not subjected to arbitrary hikes in ticket rates.