Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (KSCDRC): The Coram of Justice Sri K. Surendra Mohan (President) and T.S.P Moosath (Judicial Member), Ranjit. R and K.R. Radhakrishna (Members) decided on whether charging for the 3D glasses for a 3D movie would amount to violation of consumer rights or not.
In the present matter, it has been stated that the complainant had gone to the cinema theatre of the OP for viewing an English 3D Movie ‘Gravity’ in the year 2013, wherein he had carried with himself the 3D spectacles that he had purchased for the amount of Rs 30 n an earlier occasion for another movie.
Since the complainant was carrying his own spectacles he requested a movie ticket worth Rs 50, but the person in charge refused to give him the ticket and insisted that the complainant pays for the 3D glasses as well.
As per the complainant, the spectacles were found to be kept in a plastic cover after use and were being issued to viewers of the next show without any cleaning or sterilization.
Restrictive Trade Practice?
Complainant contended that, the spectacles necessary for viewing 3D movies were given free of cost, on earlier occasions when films like “My Dear Kuttichathan” were screened. The complainant, therefore, alleged that the charging of Rs 30, more than half of the ticket charge, as rent for the spectacles amounted to restrictive trade practice, actionable in law. He, therefore, approached the District Forum claiming compensation.
The opposite party had not compelled any one to take the 3D glasses on rent. The 3D glasses collected after each show are subjected to a sterilization process and reused only after sterilization. It is not necessary to issue a bill for supplying 3D glasses on rent. No negligence or deficiency in service was committed by the opposite parties. Therefore, they disputed the liability of paying compensation.
Coram held that the finding of the District Forum that charging Rs 30 as rent for the 3D spectacles was unjustified, cannot be found fault with. It was noted that Rs 30 charged as rent for the 3D spectacles was admittedly being recovered over and above the ticket charges, for which no entertainment tax had been admittedly been paid.
Violation of the Consumer Rights?
Commission held that the OP’s action of charging Rs 30 rent per 3D glasses for viewing the 3D Movie amounted to a serious violation of the consumer rights. OP in the said process would have extracted a tidy sum of money without providing any consequential benefit to the consumer who has availed the use thereof.
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.
Therefore, Coram agreed with the amount of compensation and punitive damages granted by the District Forum.
However, the Commission lastly added that 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 would not be in the interests of the rights of the consumers whose stakes 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.[Ravikrishnan N R v. Proprietor Remya Theatre, Appeal Nos. 431 of 2016 and 553of 2016, decided on 09-04-2021]