According to the Supreme Court of India, owners of movie theatres are free to establish their own rules regarding allowing outside food in cinema halls. The court was hearing appeals filed by the Theatre owners and the Multiplex Association of India. They contested the Jammu and Kashmir High Court's 2018 decision. That verdict held that theatres and multiplexes could not bar patrons from bringing their food and drinks into the cinemas.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha said, “Suppose someone starts getting jalebis. The owner would not want anyone wiping their hands on the seats.” It added that owners "may not want the tandoori chicken to be bought in." And said that no cinemagoer was being forced to buy popcorn. (Or other food items being sold inside the cinema halls).
The court also stated that it is the choice of the moviegoer to consume food inside the cinema hall. “A cinema hall is the private property of the owner of the such hall. And he is entitled to put such terms and conditions as he deems fit. While ensuring the same are not contrary to public interest or safety,” it said.
CJI Chandrachud said, "A cinema hall owner has the right to regulate the entry of food and beverage. Whether to consume what is available is entirely the choice of the moviegoer. Viewers visit halls for entertainment."
The apex court said it is a matter of a commercial decision of the theatre owner. “The cinema hall is not a gym where you need healthy food. It is a place of entertainment. It is privately owned, so it is the owner's prerogative.”
A report quoted the bench as saying, “The High Court exceeded jurisdiction in passing such an order. It has been submitted to movie hall owners that drinking water will be supplied free of charge. And when an infant accompanies a parent, as a matter of practice hall owners do not object to a reasonable amount of food for an infant.”