The Shopping Centre’s Association of India was also made an additional respondent in the party array. The association which represents malls and retail operators, vehemently opposed the arguments of the petitioners and stated that the issue raised in the petitions will have wide ramifications on malls and retail operations in the State.
It was argued that mall owners and operators who are private bodies incur huge costs in developing and maintaining parking spaces with adequate safety and security systems. The Municipality Act and Rules do not prohibit levying parking fees in commercial establishments and the same has been reiterated by the Kerala High Court in several judgments, the plea said.
However, municipalities and corporations across the state, have a tendency, “owing to populist and political reasons” to declare that no parking fee be paid, it was contended. The plea also pointed out that government authorities in airport, railway stations and corporation buildings charge parking fees and therefore, a different discriminatory yardstick cannot be allowed to be taken in the case of malls and other commercial establishments.