Kochi: The Kerala High Court said on Friday that prima facie, it was of the opinion that malls don’t have the right to collect parking fees from customers. The court asked Kalamassery municipality whether it had issued any license to the Lulu International shopping mall at Ernakulam for the same.
Justice P V Kunhikrishnan, while hearing a plea that the mall was illegally collecting parking fees from customers, however, did not ask the mall to stop the collection but said it would be at their risk. ‘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 parking fee is the question. Prima facie I am of the opinion that it is not possible’, the court said in its order.
The court has asked the municipality to file a statement about its stand regarding the issue and posted the matter for further hearing on January 28. ‘Further collection of the parking fee by respondent (Lulu Mall) for parking vehicles in the area which is earmarked in the building permit for parking will be subject to the result of the final decision of this writ petition. But I make it clear that they can collect the parking fee at their risk’, the court said.
Petitioner Pauly Vadakkan, a film director, has contended that the mall’s management was responsible for providing free parking to customers. He has alleged that the mall staff closed the exit gates and threatened him when he initially refused to pay the amount. ‘The parking area in a commercial complex is a public place meant for the purpose of the customers visiting that commercial complex and the 1st respondent (Lulu) in no way can collect parking fees for the same’, the petition said. However, this contention was opposed by Lulu’s lawyer, who claimed that the mall has a license.