district consumer disputes redressal commission [dcdrc], kamrup

District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission [DCDRC], Kamrup: In a decision that may motivate the cinema hall owners to be more mindful in ensuring pest control and hygiene, the Bench of A.F.A. Bora (President) and Archana Deke Lakhar and Tutumoni Deva Goswami (Members), directed Galleria Cinemas and its mangers to monetarily compensate the complainant on account of being bitten by a rodent while she was watching a movie with her family in Galleria Cinemas. The Commission relied on Sushil Ansal v. State, (2014) 6 SCC 173, stating that cinema hall owners have duty to maintain hygienic conditions in their halls.

The complainant along with her family went to Galleria Cinemas in October 2018. Upon reaching the location, she noticed that the hall was extremely unhygienic and littered all over with bits of popcorn and empty bottles. The complainant took her assigned seats and the movie started on time; however, halfway through watching the film, the complainant felt that her foot was bitten by something (supposedly a rat), and she immediately came out only to find that her foot was bleeding.

Getting anxious that she might have been bitten by a snake, the complainant approached the cinema hall authorities, but received no first aid. Therefore, she went to a nearby hospital where she was kept under observation for 2 hours as it was not known that what creature bit her.

The complainant further stated that she and husband tried to settle the matter with the hall managers, but they ignored the incident and instead handed the complainant free tickets for the next movie.

Finding no relief, the complainant thus approached the consumer forum alleging deficiency in service by the cinema hall and that due to the rodent biting incident she had to take heavy dosage medicines provided by the hospital, which is affecting her day to day to activities and efficiency.

The opposite parties contested the claim by stating that the complainant refused the first aid given by them and refused to settle the dispute in order to harass the cinema hall management.

Commission’s Assessment: Perusing the facts and documents provided by the complainant, the Commission noted that the opposite parties simply denied the incident but did not present any documents to rebut the allegations of rat bite.

The Commission also noted that the complainant was administered doses of ‘Rabipur’ vaccine, which is given to prevent rabies.

The Commission further relied on Supreme Court’s decision in Sushil Ansal v. State, (2014) 6 SCC 173, where it was held that it is the duty of cinema hall owner to maintain hygienic conditions in the halls.

The Commission found that in the present case the cinema hall owner had duty to maintain hygiene in the hall and the oral testimony of the complainant gives the impression that the hall was littered with bits of food and popcorns, which attracted rodents.

Since the opposite parties did not rebut the allegations of the complainant, the Commission was of the view that Galleria Cinema management was negligent in maintaining the hygiene, thereby did not provide proper service to viewers as mandated under Cinematograph Act and required under general obligations of a hall owner.

The Commission thus directed the opposite parties to pay monetary compensation of approximately Rs. 67,000 which includes complainant’s medical expenses, mental and physical agony suffered by her and costs of the proceedings.

[Sangeeta Das v. Galleria Cinemas, CC no. 110/2018, decided on 25-04-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For complainant- S. Khanikar, Advocate;

For opposite parties- Bibek Sarma. Advocate.

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