Sunday, February 25, 2024

Malls Can’t Collect Parking Fee From Cars: High Court

Parking fee collection at malls is a regular practise across the country. The Kerala High Court recently ruled that collecting parking fees by malls was not appropriate when hearing one such case. Several petitions were filed in court challenging the collection of parking fees by Lulu International shopping malls in Kerala. The parking fee collection by the mall was said to be illegal, according to the plea. Justice P. V. Kunhikrishnan has requested the Kalamassery Municipality’s opinion on the matter, and the case will be heard in two weeks.

“Parking space is an element of the building,” the court said, “and a building permit is provided on the premise that there would be a parking space.” A building is erected as a result of this endeavour. The concern is whether the owner will be able to charge a parking fee after the development is completed. I am of the opinion that it is not feasible, Prima face. This Court is interested in learning the Municipality’s position on this matter.”

Lulu Mall was allegedly collecting parking fees without authorisation, according to the petitioner. S Sreekumar, a senior counsel who appeared for the respondents, produced a licence granted under Section 447 of the Kerala Municipality Act. The lawyer also presented High Court decisions in support of the respondents’ viewpoint. After hearing both parties, the Kerala High Court ordered the Municipality to make a statement explaining their position on the parking money received by the mall for a parking space required by construction regulations. The case will be heard by the court on January 28, 2022.

Bosco Louis, a social worker, initiated the initial petition. He had appeared in the court as an individual, and a film director named Pauly Vadakkan had filed a separate petition. On December 2, 2021, the filmmaker filed a petition after being charged Rs 20 as a parking fee at the mall. When the director originally refused to pay the parking fee, the mall workers allegedly shut exit gates and intimidated him.

His petition further stated that charging a parking fee was a clear violation of the Kerala Municipality Act and the Kerala Municipality Building Rules 1994. According to the rules, a mall is a commercial complex, and the location allocated in the permitted structure is a mall.

Bosco Louis, a social worker, initiated the initial petition. He had appeared in the court as an individual, and a film director named Pauly Vadakkan had filed a separate petition. On December 2, 2021, the filmmaker filed a petition after being charged Rs 20 as a parking fee at the mall. When the director originally refused to pay the parking fee, the mall workers allegedly shut exit gates and intimidated him.

His plea also mentioned that the collection of parking fee was a open violation of the Kerala Municipality Act and Kerala Municipality Building Rules 1994. The plea said as per the rule, mall is a commercial complex and the place earmarked in the approved building plan for parking cannot be converted into a pay and park facility.

In the meanwhile, the court has not placed any restrictions on Lulu International Shopping Mall’s ability to collect parking fees. The mall can continue to do so at their own peril, according to the court. This isn’t the first time such a problem has arisen. The Gujarat High Court declared in 2019 that malls and multiplexes cannot charge parking fees since they are required by law to offer parking space. Last year, the Karnataka High Court considered a similar request for free parking spaces at malls and multiplexes and turned it down. “Someone incurs a cost for keeping the parking place at a cinema hall,” the court stated. “How can it be free?” you might wonder.

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