Kerala High Court on Friday opined that prima facie, the Lulu International shopping mall collecting parking fees was not appropriate. The bench has sought a reply from Kalamassery Municipality whether it had issued a license to the mall at Ernakulam for the same.
Justice PV Kunhikrishnan noted that any parking fees collected henceforth by Lulu International Shopping Mall in Ernakulam from its visitors will be subject to the outcome of the case before the Court challenging the same.
“As per the Building Rules, sufficient area for parking space is necessary for constructing a building. Parking space is part of the building. The building permit is issued on condition that there will be parking space. Based on this undertaking the building is constructed. After constructing the building, whether the owner of the building can collect the parking fee is the question. Prima facie I am of the opinion that it is not possible,” noted the bench.
The petition was filed by a social worker Bosco Louis. Bosco appeared as a party in person. The other petition was filed by film director Pauly Vadakkan. He was charged Rs 20 as the parking fees when he visited the mall on December 2.
Pauly alleged that the mall staff closed the gates and also threatened him after he resisted paying the parking fees.
The petitioners have contended that a blatant violation of the Kerala Municipality Act and Kerala Municipality Building Rules 1994 since as per the rules, the mall is a commercial complex and the place earmarked in the approved building plan for parking cannot be converted into a pay & park facility.
The petitioners added that if any conversion is made, that is a fraud on the statute and unsustainable in the eyes of law.
It was argued that the mall was collecting parking fees without any authority and license.
However, Advocate S Sreekumar representing the respondents apprised the court that they possess a license under Section 447 of the Kerala Municipality Act.
The matter has been posted for January 28, 2022.
In a 2019 order, the Gujarat High Court had ruled that multiplexes and malls should not collect parking fees as they are under a statutory obligation to provide car parking space.
In 2021, Karnataka High Court refused to entertain a petition seeking free spaces in malls and multiplexes. The petitioner had withdrawn the petition after the High Court bench observed, “Somebody incurs a cost for maintaining the parking space at a cinema hall. How can it be free?”