Citizens question legality of parking fee charged in city’s movie theatres

Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
12 Feb 2018

In a city with limited recreational avenues, exorbitant parking charges levied on movie lovers in the two Cineplexes here has come in for criticism from different corners. Albeit norms that charging for vehicles parked inside commercial complexes is illegal, cine-goers here are forced to pay through their nose for parking their two and four-wheelers even as the authorities concerned remain a mute spectator.
As per reports, people are forced to accept whatever fee is collected by the owners of Anand Paradise and Divyum Talkies. At Anand Paradise, Rs 30/- is charged for parking a four-wheeler for four hours, while Rs 20 is charged for two-wheelers. At Divyum Talkies, visitors are asked to pay Rs 35/- for four-wheelers and Rs 20/- for two. A deeper analysis into the issue whether parking charges inside commercial complexes, Malls, Cinema Hall is legal or not, however, reveals an interesting scenario. Though charges are levied on parking of vehicles in private commercial complexes in different cities of the country, different Courts in the country had on occasions ruled otherwise.
The question came up for hearing before the Andhra Pradesh High Court on 2nd May 2003. Disposing of the petition filed by Ch. Madan Mohan and others, the High Court held that builders/owners of commercial complexes or owners of apartments in a commercial complex have no absolute right to lease out or licence out parking areas. “Insofar as multi-storeyed commercial complexes are concerned, the builder/ owner under law has impliedly accepted by reason of building permission and other provisions to keep parking places for the use by visitors to the complex and hence builders/owners or their licenses cannot charge any fees,” ruled the High Court.
In October last year, the issue of malls, hospitals and commercial establishments in South Delhi charging parking fees from the public came under the scanner of the Delhi High Court. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued a notice to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and sought its response to a PIL which alleged that charging of parking fees by these establishments was in violation of the civic body’s notification.
An FIR was lodged last year against a Shopping Mall in Hyderabad after a man registered a complaint that he was asked to pay Rs 30/- for using the parking lot for just 10 minutes. “Commercial Complexes, be it malls, theatres or shopping complexes, have no right to lease out or license parking areas. Commercial complexes are public spaces they function by inviting public, so that public spaces must be free of cost,” reported Deccan Chronicle while carrying the story.
Speaking to EOI, the managers of Divyum Talkies and Anand Paradise maintained that similar practice is followed in cities like Chennai, Bangalore etc. “The practice of charging parking fee in Cinema hall is very much prevalent in different parts of the country and as such we too follow the practice here. It’s absolutely valid,” they claimed.