3D glasses necessary for watching 3D movies in theatres should be made available free of cost, the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ruled (The Proprietor, Remya Theatre, Dhanya Remya Theatre Complex v. Adv. Ravi Krishnan).
A Bench comprising of President, Justice K Surendra Mohan and members TSP Moosath (Judicial Member), Ranjit R, Beena Kumari A and Radhakrishnan KR (Expert Members) opined that allowing the extraction of additional charges for renting 3D glasses would only give room for the exploitation of consumers.
“If 3D glasses are necessary for the better viewing of the 3D movie, it is imperative that the said glasses are supplied free of cost for the use of the viewers. Extraction of such amounts by individual theatre owners at their whims and fancies would only give room for exploitation of the consumers“, the order said.
The Commission was dealing with appeals challenging a 2016 order of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Thiruvananthapuram.
A lawyer, Advocate Ravi Krishnan had gone to the theatre to watch the 3D film, ‘Gravity’, when he noticed that Rs 30 fee was being collected as rent for 3D glasses. This was in addition to the Rs 50 charged for the movie ticket. Whereas Krishnan informed that he already had 3D glasses with him and requested the issuance of a ticket at Rs 50, the theatre personnel insisted that he pay the additional charge of Rs 30 for the issue of the 3D glasses as well.
Therefore, Krishnan approached the District Consumer Forum, contending that the mandatory levy of Rs 30 as rent for the 3D glasses amounted to a restrictive trade practice.
Whereas the District Forum found his complaint well-founded, it also directed that the theatre may levy an additional charge for renting 3D glasses after giving prior notice and for those people who require the same.
The District Forum order was thus challenged by Krishnan on the ground that if the theatre was allowed to charge additional fee for the 3D spectacles to customers requiring the same, it would enable the theatre to continue with the restrictive trade practice without hindrance.
The proprietor of Dhanya Remya Theatre, meanwhile, challenged the District Forum order in so far as it ordered that the theatre to pay Rs. 5,000 as compensation and Rs. 5,000 as punitive damages in addition to costs of Rs. 2,000 to Krishnan.
The State Commission, in turn, allowed Krishnan’s appeal and dismissed the theatre’s appeal. Key findings of the State Commission include:
- The District Forum rightly found that the 3D glasses provided by Remya Theatre were not of high quality or value. Extracting an amount of Rs. 30 as rent for such spectacles can only be termed as excessive exploitation. While the theatre contended that their spectacles were of better quality, no evidence was shown to support this contention. Therefore, the finding of the District Forum that charging of Rs. 30 as rent for the 3D spectacles was unjustified, cannot be found fault with.
- Remya Theatre’s decision to charge rent of Rs. 30 per 3D glasses made available for viewing the 3D movie amounts to a serious violation of the rights of the consumer. In the process, the theatre would have extracted a tidy sum of money, without providing any consequential benefit to the consumer who has availed the use of the glasses, the Commission said.
- The amount of compensation and punitive damages granted by the District Forum are justified and reasonable.
- The direction of the District Forum that charges for use of the 3D glasses could be extracted from customers who require the glasses and that too after publishing a notice is without any justification, as contended by the complainant.
- Any such permission to extract additional charges for 3D glasses would not be in the interests of the rights of the consumers whose stake in such matters are very low.Most consumers may not consider it worthwhile to litigate for small amounts like Rs. 30. Therefore, the said direction was vacated.
Advocate CS Rajmohan appeared for the proprietor of the theatre complex, whereas the complainant, Advocate Ravi Krishnan, appeared party-in-person.