The single-judge bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan opined that charging parking fees by commercial establishments such as the Lulu International Shopping Mall in Ernakulam is unlawful as per the Kerala Municipality Building Rules, 1994. Providing parking space to visitors is compulsory and they cannot be charged extra for it as a building permit is given only on the inclusion of parking space. Collecting an additional fee because it is a part of the building should not be done. Citing the example of lift the court asked whether they would start charging fees for the lift too in the future as that’s also a service they are providing to their visitors.
The Court was considering a petition filed by film director Pauly Vadakkan, who was charged Rs 20 in parking costs when he visited the mall earlier this month. Mall owners and operators, who are private entities, are said to spend a lot of money building and maintaining parking spots with proper safety and security equipment. The respondents argued that Municipality Act and Rules do not ban charging parking fees in commercial premises, as the Kerala High Court has stated in various instances. The court promised the party respondents, however, that the Court would listen to them carefully before making a final decision and would take the matter on the next date which is scheduled for 21st February 2021.