Ahmedabad: With the film exhibition sector severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed by the government for more than a year, serious rent disputes have arisen between cinema operators and owners of multiplex, bringing the parties to court.
In one such case, a film exploitation company, Time Cinemas and Entertainment Pvt Ltd, approached the city’s civil court to seek protection from eviction by the owner of the multiplex, Venus Infrastructure & Developers Pvt. Ltd, for failure to pay rent since foreclosure in March 2020 The owner of the multiplex is asking Rs 1.66 crore for the accumulated rent with interest and has sent a notice to Time Cinemas to evict it from the CG Road premises.
Time Cinemas has moved the tribunal and said it seeks arbitration under the Arbitration and Reconciliation Act and until the tribunal is established and makes an award it cannot be asked to leave the premises. To support its argument, Time Cinema cited a clause in the lease agreement that in the event that the cinema exhibition is closed for more than 15 days due to an entry restriction in the shopping center in which it is located , the obligation to pay the rent ceases until the dispute is resolved. . Due to the lockdown and subsequent restrictions, theaters remained completely closed in two phases and were allowed to operate with restrictions for five months. The film business was hit hard and the circumstances should be viewed as force majeure.
The court took note of the pending petition before the high court of Gujarat for the establishment of an arbitration tribunal and the HC issued a notice and suspended the enforcement action. The court granted a 90-day exemption to the exhibitor, that he should not leave the premises.
In another case, Zen Matrix Pvt Ltd, owner of a multiplex in Ghatlodia, took its tenant exhibitor, Rajhans Cine World Ltd, to court to recover Rs 3.03 crore in rent, which had accumulated until March 2021. He also requested a court. order Rajhans to continue paying Rs 27.52 lakh in rent per month from April 2021 until he leaves the property.
The court refused to grant any remedy to Zen Matrix, which has now approached the High Court.