After nearly two and a half decades, the Uphaar cinema fire incident is once again in the headlines. A consumer court cited one of the many observations in the case to give relief to a cinema hall in Assam.
According to the complainant, on October 20, 2018, she had gone to Galleria Cinemas at Bhangagarh, Guwahati along with her family. He alleged that the cinema hall was not managed properly. Empty bottles, leftover popcorn and other waste material could be seen piling up behind the seats. After the interval, he saw that he had a cut on his leg and was bleeding. Seeing the condition of the cinema hall, he accepted it as snakebite.
The complainant was taken to a nearby hospital where he was kept under observation for two hours for the rat bite. The woman was later given rabies vaccine and prescribed medicines. In her complaint, she stated that these drugs were strong and caused problems, hampering her efficiency.
The complainant was also aggrieved by the contemptuous behavior shown by the cinema hall management. According to her, no one representing the cinema hall was there to accompany her to the hospital, even though the shift manager had agreed to do so. Apparently, she and her husband also tried to settle the matter, but the two deputy managers refused to do so. He offered her free movie tickets while she needed first aid.
He then approached the Kamrup District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (DCDRC). He demanded Rs 6,02,282.48 from the cinema hall management. This includes Rs 3,50,000 and compensation of Rs 2,50,000 for mental agony and pain and suffering as well as mental agony caused to her.
At the same time, the managers of the cinema hall argued that the woman had refused to take first aid and go to the nearest hospital. He alleges that the complainant only wanted to harass him. He also countered the claim that the cinema hall was not cleaned. Instead, he presented that pest control and other measures to maintain cleanliness were standard practice. Consequently, he demanded the commission to reduce the compensation amount to Rs 15,000.
However, he did not provide any document to refute the allegations of the complainant. On the contrary, the woman had several documents which proved that she had gone to Namcare Hospital and was given anti-rabies shots.
The pertinent question was whether the hall’s officials could be held responsible for the rat bite. Only after this is established, a compensatory mechanism can be established. A bench comprising Chairman AFA Bora, Members Archana Deka Lakhar and Tutumoni Deva Goswami relied on the Uphaar cinema fire case to decide its accountability.
“Importantly, the duty of care is not a one-time affair. It is a continuing obligation that every invitee, contractual or otherwise, has for every exhibition of a cinematograph. What is equally important is that not only Under the common law but also the statutory system, the duty to ensure the safety of the invitees is unquestionable, and any neglect of the duty is actionable as both a civil and a criminal act, depending on whether the negligence is simple or gross. is,” said one of the comments.
Relying on this and a thorough study of the evidence and oral evidence at its disposal, the consumer court concluded that there is no regular cleaning after each show. Mice are roaming around as food, popcorn and other items are regularly present on the floor. This is due to lack of proper sanitation and supervision to ensure the safety and sanitary conditions of the cinema halls.
Establishing liability under the Cinematograph Act, the consumer court said, “We are thus of the view that the Op. The parties were negligent in maintaining the sanitary condition of the cinema hall to provide proper service to the audience under the Cinematography Act and other obligations of the owners of the hall.
However, the court reduced the amount of compensation sought by the complainant. He is to be paid Rs 40,000 for mental agony and Rs 20,000 for pain and suffering. Ultimately, the hall authorities were directed to pay a cumulative compensation amount of Rs 67,282 to the complainant within 45 days. Failure to do so will result in interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum.