HC nudges Chandigarh on spas functioning; advises to adopt Delhi rules
The court was hearing an anticipatory bail plea moved by Nagaraj T, a Sector-35 spa owner, who was booked under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 on July 12, 2023
Taking serious note of the rise in cases of immoral trafficking involving spas, the Punjab and Haryana high court has advised the Chandigarh administration to adopt guidelines framed by Delhi.
“It is necessary to observe that as per the information provided by learned counsel for the Union Territory, there are a total of 71 spa centres being run in Chandigarh. As already noticed, from 2018 until now, 16 cases have been registered under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, including five cases in 2023. Despite that, there are no rules/regulations/guidelines for operating such centres in the city,” the bench of Justice Mahabir Singh Sindhu observed, asking the UT administration to consider “guidelines for the operation of spa/massage centres in Delhi, notified on August 18, 2021.”
The court was hearing an anticipatory bail plea moved by Nagaraj T, a Sector-35 spa owner, who was booked under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 on July 12, 2023. The police claimed that during a raid at the spa, signboards with “busy” written on them were found hanging outside two rooms out of total of eight rooms. On checking, two girls and persons inside were allegedly found in an objectionable situation. On further checking, five girls were found inside a room outside which “staff room” was written. The FIR said the five girls told police that they were brought in on the pretext of getting jobs, and were tricked into prostitution.
Meanwhile, the petitioner alleged that he was framed by the police. On the other hand, police had claimed that the accused was the kingpin, who has lured innocent girls and used them for the flesh trade while taking benefit of their poor financial condition. The petitioner is indulging in illegal activities of flesh trade just to exploit the vulnerable poor girls from far-away places and as a result thereof 16 similar FIRs were registered during the last five years in Chandigarh.
The court dismissed the anticipatory plea from the petitioner and said in view of the fact that cases of immoral trafficking involving spas are growing, therefore, in order to curb this menace, there would be no harm if the authorities may think about similar guidelines for the City Beautiful.
Key features of guidelines by Delhi
Engaging in any form of sexual activity on the premises of the spa is prohibited
Cross-gender massages shall not be allowed
Male and female spa centres shall be in different sections of the premises
The spa services shall not be provided behind locked doors
Mandatory provision for production of ID cards for all customers
The premises shall not be used for residential purposes
All employees shall wear an ID card issued by the employer and no person below the age of 18 years of age shall be employed
Local bodies shall obtain the police verification of the owner/manager before issuing a health trade license
There should be no criminal cases pending and no involvement in the criminal action related to immoral trafficking offences