No link to prostitution: HC maintains ban on transgender massage services in Delhi

Finding that there is no “reasonable connection” between the total ban on massage parlors and the prevention of prostitution, the Delhi High Court suspended the ban on transgender massage services in the city.

The court observed that there was no “reasonable connection” between the total ban on massage parlors and the prevention of prostitution (file photo)

The Delhi High Court on Thursday suspended the Delhi government’s ban on transgender massage services at private spas and wellness centers operating in the nation’s capital.

The court observed that there was no “reasonable connection” between the total ban on massage parlors and the prevention of prostitution.

While hearing a batch of petitions filed by spa centers and doctors against the Delhi government directive banning gender massages and the resulting instructions adopted by municipalities, Judge Rekha Palli said that at first glance, the opinions of professionals working in the industry were not taken into account before developing the policy.

Justice Palli noted that a sudden ban would have a negative effect on those employed in the spa industry and said the “cure” must be proportionate to the problem.

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“I am of the opinion at first glance that this kind of absolute ban on transgender massage cannot be considered to have a reasonable connection with the objective of the policy, which is to regulate the operation of spas and to ensure that no illegal trafficking or prostitution takes place in town … ultimately, the cure must also match, “she said.

The court expressed concern over the claim that there are around 5,000 illegal spas operating in the nation’s capital and only 400 have licenses.

“… simply because the police and businesses have not been able to take effective measures to ensure that no illegal spas are allowed in the city and that license holders do not engage in no illegal activity, that cannot be a reason (to impose a ban), ”the court said.

By suspending the ban until the next court date in January, the High Court ordered the three municipalities and Delhi Police to inspect their respective areas within a week and take action to seal off the services of illegal spa operating in the city.

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