Delhi High Court stays ban on cross-gender massage parlours in delhi

The Delhi High Court has stayed the ban on cross-gender massage parlours in Delhi while stating an absolute ban on cross-gender massage cannot be said to have any reasonable connection with the aim of the policy issued by the Delhi Government. 

“It is accordingly directed that till the next date, the operation of the policy and the similar clauses shall remain stayed,” the court ordered.

The court reprimanded Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra appearing for the Delhi Government for making political statements and instructed him to "alienate self from the party". 

A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli was hearing a petition preferred by an association of spa owners in the NCT of Delhi seeking the quashing of guidelines issued by Government of Delhi by way of Notification No. F.11/11/2019/HP-II/3642-3645, on August 18, 2021.

“I am of the prima facie view that this kind of an absolute ban on cross-gender massage cannot be said to have any reasonable connection with the aim of the policy, which is to regulate the functioning of spas and ensure that no illegal trafficking or prostitution takes place in the city,”

-said Justice Palli.

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The Court directed the commissioners of the three municipal corporation along with the Commissioner of Police to carry out inspections of their respective area within one week, and take appropriate steps for the closure of all unlicensed spas.

The aforementioned guidelines provide Mandatory Conditions for Obtaining License, the provisions for Inspection and Enforcement and an Undertaking which has to be submitted by the spa owners before obtaining a license. Some of the. Mandatory Conditions for Obtaining License are:

• Engaging in Sexual Activity in premises cannot be permitted.

• Cross-Gender massage shall not be allowed.

• Clearly demarcated Male and Female Sections

• Locking of Doors of Chamber in Spa Centers shall not be allowed

• Spa and Massage Centers can remain open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Separate Changing rooms for males and females

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Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra contended that massage parlours have become a front for prostitution and a bare perusal of websites such as Justdial etc. shows the illicit services offered by various massage parlours. He also stressed on the need to protect children and women.

He further handed over documents to the court which showed that massage parlours were openly indulging in the above-mentioned behaviour.

Justice Palli had previously stated that cross-gender massages do not amount to "sexual activity" and had asked authorities to not act against any such activity during the pendency of the petitions.

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