High Court: Malls and Multiplexes can’t charge parking fees

The division bench headed by acting Chief Justice A S Dave has struck down an order passed by a single-judge bench that said that the malls and shopping centres should offer free parking to visitors for first hour. They can charge nominal parking fees for the rest of the time.

The division bench upheld the state government’s argument that the General Development Control Regulations (GDCR) does not permit private shopping centres to charge parking fee from visitors.

The GDCR mandates the commercial complexes to allocate parking spaces for visitors commensurate with the size and kind of commercial activities taking place in the complex.

Citing this norm, local police and civic authorities had issued notice to Alpha One mall in Vastrapur area to restrain it from collecting parking fees. The mall owners had challenged these notices before the HC.

The mall owners had also taken exception to the single judge’s order to offer free parking to visitors for first hour, and its decision of putting a cap on parking fee.

The division bench said, “The provisions of the Comprehensive General Development Control Regulation 2017, or the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporations Act, 1948, and the Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976, do not contemplate “parking-fee” or “parking-charges” to be levied from the visitors of a mercantile or malls or multiplexes or commercial complexes.”

The division bench also quashed the single judge’s direction to the state government to form a parking policy to rationalize and regulate the parking fees being collected by commercial complexes and malls, as well as for fees to be fixed for parking in public places and on roads.

The Judges said, “A writ court is ordinarily not expected to direct the state and its authorities to undertake any legislative exercise and enactment of legislation in the form of Act/Rules/ Regulations is in exclusive domain of the legislature.”

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