The standing committee of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has proposed fresh guidelines for massage parlours and spa centres, under which women will not be allowed to give massages to men and vice versa.
The proposal also states that a record of visitors has to be maintained by the parlours and it would be mandatory for people to show government identity cards to avail services.
Former mayor and standing committee member Kamaljeet Shehrawat instructed officials that they should not give health trade licences to parlours and spas if they are providing “cross-gender” massage.
Shehrawat said there were reports of “immoral activities” being done in the garb of these centres and the guidelines were issued to stop them. “India’s culture and Delhi’s culture does not allow this,” she said.
“The proposal requires spas to maintain a register for all customers and says they should be allowed only after producing a government identity card like Aadhaar, voter i-card or driving licence,” she said.
Also, CCTV cameras should be installed at the reception to monitor people entering the facilities, she said.
The proposed guidelines say people working at such facilities should be medically fit and free from communicable diseases, and a certificate from registered medical practitioners on this should be available.
There are 297 spa centres in South Delhi.
A senior official of the South civic body said the new set of rules will be examined by the health department, after which they will be incorporated in the set of rules for procuring the licences.
The Delhi Commission for women had earlier written to the SDMC, saying it had received several complaints with allegations of prostitution rackets being operated in the garb of spa and massage centres. The commission had asked for details of the spa centres and what action had been taken against them.
The South civic body in its report said it had sealed over 50 spas in the past six months over different violations, such as running from residential spaces, not having trade licences, running without proper provisions of water and electrical safety, or without no-objection certificate from government agencies.
The official said most of these centres were operating in areas like Mahipalpur, Lajpat Nagar, Rajouri Garden and Punjabi Bagh.
In January this year, the Madras High Court, hearing a petition filed by an Indonesian massage therapist detained by the Chennai police, had said: “Police have no legal right to prevent a health spa being operated by anyone even if the therapy is done by persons of one sex to those belonging to the opposite sex.” The court had noted that a health spa “where (a) cross-gender person massages is a worldwide phenomenon,” adding there was no legal prohibition on the practice.