With the Supreme Court dismissing a special leave petition (SLP) filed by a cinema licensee challenging the order of the Madras High Court on fixing parking fee at cinemas, the Government is now empowered to fix the parking fee.
The issue of cinemas collecting parking fee was in contravention to Tamil Nadu Cinema Regulation Rules of 1957 and as per condition 16 of C Form, the licensee has to provide parking space and look after the vehicles brought to the premises. When the theatres increased the rates in 1989, it was taken up with the District Collector and the parking fee was reduced. Again in 1991, when the rates went up, Coimbatore Consumer Cause (CCC) took up the issue to get the parking fee reduced, pointed out K. Kathirmathiyon, secretary of CCC.
The Government issued an order on December 21, 1993 empowering the Licensing authorities (District Collectors) to fix the fee to be collected by the licensees for the vehicles parked in cinemas. The District Collector fixed the rates, but it was not implemented since amendments were not made in the Tamil Nadu Cinema (Regulation) Rules of 1957.
After six years, the Government issued another order in May 1999 after amending the Tamil Nadu Cinema (Regulation) Rules. Rates were fixed at Rs. 3 for cars, Rs. 2 for scooter/two-wheelers and Re. 1 for cycles in the Corporation and municipalities.
Again, this order was challenged by theatre owners. Disposing the writ petitions on September 30, 1999, the High Court ruled that the Government was empowered to regulate the collection of parking fee.
Then onwards, the Government asked the theatre owners either to prefer an appeal against the court order or to implement the court order. Between 1999 and 2002, the theatres continued to collect parking fee.In 2002, the Government filed an appeal and the court ruled in its favour.
With the Government asking the theatre owners to implement the order, a theatre owner had approached the Supreme Court in 2011.
When the Supreme Court was about to issue an order on the SLP on July 9, 2013, a petition was filed by the theatre owner for withdrawing the same. With the Supreme Court dismissing the petition, the Government is now empowered to fix the parking fee. Mr. Kathirmathiyon urged the State Government to implement the order.