Bombay HC stays ban on charging of entertainment fee

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The Bombay High Court on Tuesday stayed a plea to ban service fees on online booking of movie tickets. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice MS Sonak stayed a clause in the April 2013 government resolution that prevents cinema halls and online agencies from collecting the entertainment fee, a service charge, for the purpose of online booking.

Darius Khambata, advocate general, confirmed that the government was framing legislation and a proposal will be placed before the Cabinet within a week. If it gets the Cabinet’s nod, then an ordinance will be subsequently promulgated in a month or so. Khambata further added that although there will be no prohibition, a fixed percentage of the amount which is charged as a service fee will be exempted from the entertainment duty.

Aspi Chinoy, senior advocate, bookmyshow.com argued that as the legislation has been pending, the court must pass a restrain order as it has been nearly 12 months that they haven’t charged for online bookings. The advocate also stated a 2006 Supreme Court ruling and said that “GRs can’t be used to stop a business”. Chinoy further added that back in 2000, the government had issued a GR, allowing charging of up to 10 per cent and now they cannot refrain from their order.

Janak Dwarkadas, senior advocate, appearing for PVR cinema said that the online fee was for the convenience of the customer, who otherwise had to travel to buy a ticket. The charge was however, not a precondition for entry into cinema halls.