Hyderabad: Angry at being made to pay parking fees in malls, a resident of Hyderabad filed an FIR against Inorbit mall after he was told to pay Rs 30 for using the parking lot for just 10 minutes.
Vijay Gopal registered an FIR at the Madhapur police station on August 26. He is particularly annoyed at the large amount demanded by malls as parking charge.
“The malls are minting money. Anybody who visits the mall would at least spend two hours for a movie or shopping and for that you have to shell out minimum `50, no matter which mall,” says Mr Gopal. His bill showed the addition of GST, which irked him even more. He says this practice is actually against many rules and government orders. A judgment from the High Court of Hyderabad dated May 2, 2003, declared the parking fee to be illegal. In Ch. Madan Mohan and others Vs Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, the court held that a parking fee is an illegal amount that is collected and goes against two state laws. The AP Apartments Act 1987, section 24, states that the owner or promoter of the apartments cannot lease out the common areas. Moreover, as per GO 423, dated 1998, a commercial area can have more Floor Area Ratio against the total built up area, which means that provided that 44% per cent of the area has to be is a common area, for which government has provided waivers and concessions. Thus the builders cannot turn these common areas into commercial areas and get the benefits.
“The judgment noted that GHMC is the authority in charge of regulating this malpractice. If the law doesn’t permit it, then why can’t the government put its foot down?” Mr Gopal asks pertinently.
The Madhapur police have booked the case under sections 188, 418, and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, which is for disobedience of an order and cheating with knowledge. The parking charge benefits many players - the mall constructors, the management of the mall, and the contractors who manage the parking lots. The issue is governed by state laws and so in Hyderabad it is illegal. But some other states have regulations that have capped the fee to a maximum of `5, says Mr Gopal. “Every building is mandated to have a parking space based on the built up area. So it goes without saying that they must let it for free as they are inviting people to visit the place to make a purchase. It is their responsibility and courtesy to provide free parking,” said Gowri Shankar, a lawyer and chairperson of the Confederation of All Telangana Consumer Organisations (CATCO).
Know the law
- Commercial complexes, be it malls, theatres or shopping complexes, have no right to lease out or licence parking areas
- Commercial complexes are public spaces as they function by inviting the public, so the public spaces must be free of cost
- The highest bidder will get to choose the city and it will not be restricted to Chennai, Jaipur