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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court announced on Monday that it would hear a September 20 challenge to Delhi government guidelines banning transgender massage services and inquired whether any action has been taken against spas on this basis.
Judge Rekha Palli, who orally observed that the ban was a political decision of the government, asked the petitioner – Association of Wellness Ayurveda & Spa – to file an additional affidavit listing its members and the actions taken by the authorities in accordance with the guidelines.
“I’m not giving an opinion at this time. Please file the document,” the judge said.
The Delhi government attorney said the guidelines banning gender massages, developed by a task force appointed by the lieutenant governor, are tied to the licensing of health care businesses and did not yet been notified as law.
“This (the guidelines) has not yet resulted in a law. It is only an internal document. It cannot be implemented at the moment,” said the lawyer.
The task force was formed in accordance with a reference received by the lieutenant governor of the Delhi Commission for Women on the operation of spas, he added.
“The grievance is that there is a directive from you (the government). She has the right to challenge whether they are followed,” the court observed.
The lawyer for the municipal bodies raised objections to the status of the applicant who claimed to be an association of persons with valid licenses to operate spas here.
Counsel for the applicant declared that the ban was unconstitutional and in violation of Article 19 (1) (g).
“It’s irrational, discriminatory and a big setback for the industry,” the lawyer said.
In his petition filed by lawyers Indu Kaul and Mani Kaul, the petitioner claimed that on the basis of the guidelines, which are not in the public domain, two spas have been closed and others are “threatened by the authorities”.
“Every industry, workplace and business has bad apples, but that doesn’t mean every spa center across the state is running a prostitution and human trafficking racketeering,” the petition reads. claims that spa centers spend “a huge amount of money on training and upgrading the skills” of their massage therapists and the structure of their operation cannot be changed after the professional license has been issued by the authorities.
It was pointed out that there are several places where men and women work together, such as gyms and yoga centers, and that it was not reasonable to isolate spas.
In addition, it is stated that mixed treatment is “part of traditional massage practices” and to assume that prostitution only belongs to the “heterosexual domain” is illogical.
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