Lahore High Court Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan has directed the Punjab Excise and Taxation director to provide the relevant record in a petition seeking policy details of five theatres which are allegedly selling tickets at exorbitant rates. The court sought the records by Thursday (tomorrow).
The judge also directed the owners of the entertainment facilities to submit their affidavits by tomorrow. The petitioner sought a fair audit of the theatres.
On Tuesday, as proceedings started, Justice Khan questioned why people were being deprived of affordable entertainment and why tickets are being sold at exorbitant rates. He also asked whether these theatres are being regulated by the Lahore Art Council or Punjab Art Councils.
Representatives of the theatres disagreed with the petitioner's claim that RS6,000 was being charged Rs6,000 per ticket. A counsel representing Shalimar Theatre said that directions should be issued to the petitioner to produce evidence in the court. He added that Rs3,000 is being charged for the highest category of ticket and 20% of the amount is paid in tax.
The judge later asked the petitioner why he wanted to go to a theatre when he could not afford the ticket. As the petitioner started speaking, Judge Khan snubbed him for appearing before the court with a cap on his head. To this, the petitioner immediately removed his cap.
The representatives of the theatres informed the court that they acquire the services of famous actors and that was the reason ticket rates were higher. However, they clarified that they had never charged Rs6,000, as claimed by the petitioner.
Later, the petitioner said that would it be possible for his representatives to produce a ticket before the court on which the ticket price was printed.
Justice Khan also sought tickets on which the ticket prices are printed. He warned them not to forge freshly printed tickets with doctored prices otherwise action could be taken. The judge fixed March 29 as the next date of hearing.
Petitioner Hamza Jahangir named minister for information and culture, the deputy commissioner, excise and taxation director, chief commissioners, Alfalah Theatre, Tamaseel, Al-Hamra Art Council, Shalimar, and Mehfil as the respondents.
The petitioner submitted that he, along with his friend, went to Alfalah Theatre on December 16, 2018, to watch a stage commercial drama titled "Halka Halka Suroor". Jahanagir claimed that he was told that Rs6,000 was being charged for sitting in the first row and Rs5,000 for the third row. When he asked whether the cashier if a rate list had provided by the government, the latter allegedly started misbehaving with him.
He asked the court to direct government departments to produce details of the private theatres, including their rate lists. He also requested the court to pass an order for an audit. “Theatres administrations should also be directed to produce their records, along with their policy, under which they issue tickets.