The Pocharam branch of Infosys on the outskirts of Hyderabad was penalised Rs 50,000 and served with a show-cause notice by the Pocharam municipality this week for collecting parking fees from its employees. The IT company’s Pocharam branch was collecting Rs 500 per car and Rs 250 to Rs 300 for bikes and scooters from their employees and the money was being directly deducted from the employees’ salaries.
The Infosys office in Hyderabad is located in the city outskirts, in the Pocharam Special Economic Zone (SEZ) campus spread over 420 acres. An estimated 20,000 people work at the facility and the workforce is expected to increase by another 20,000 in the next few years.
According to municipal bye-laws, parking within the office premises is free. However, the company violated the norm and has been charging fee for providing parking facilities to its own employees.
The municipality took action against the IT firm after a public interest litigation (PIL) plea was filed in the Telangana High Court by Vijay Gopal, a city-based anti-corruption activist and founder of Forum Against Corruption.
Mr Gopal had written to the ministry of commerce and industry asking for action to be taken against the software major. “Levying parking charges is illegal, Infosys must be booked under section 420 of IPC for cheating their employees and under the relevant SEZ Penal Sections of the SEZ Act and Rules,” he added.
Infosys reportedly responded to the ministry’s query into the allegation of parking charges saying, “The charges collected from the employees as a deduction from salary is accounted as a fund with the Infosys employees welfare trust which utilises the same for the maintenance and upkeep of the parking facility.” The company claimed they even collect GST on the parking fee from the employees.
The company employees had earlier approached their human resources department with complaints about the parking fee being collected and requested for the practice to be stopped. But the management responded by saying that the fee was being collected to maintain the parking lot.
However, in a letter to the municipality earlier, Infosys claimed that it was collecting the parking fee to encourage its employees use public transport. However, the municipality quoted a State Government Order (GO) to rationalise and regulate parking fee, which applies to all companies, including the Pocharam branch of Infosys.
The issue has been simmering for over two years. In 2019, Infosys has expressly said in a letter that the said GO 63 was not applicable to the company since it does not use its ‘parking facility as a commercial activity’ — the facility is used exclusively for its employees.
“The charges collected from the employees as a deduction from salary, is accounted as a fund with the Infosys Employees Welfare Trust which utilises the same for maintenance and upkeep of the parking facility,” the same letter stated.
It is understood that parking charges are levied on all Infosys employees across India.