Massage parlours and the law: India

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Police should not interfere

Cops can't interfere with massage biz: Madras High Court

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A Subramani, December 18, 2014

Relax! Massage parlours, spas, beauty parlours, wellness centres, unisex salons and health clubs -call them by any name, but police and other authorities cannot interfere with their functioning without there being a law to either permit or regulate such entities, the Madras high court has ruled. Justice V Ramasubramanian, coming to the rescue of the wellness industry in Chennai, said on Wednesday: “It is quite unfortunate that the very word 'massage' has come to be looked down upon, due to the abuse of these centres by a few individuals. Therefore, it may be necessary for the government to regulate, by law, the industry and provide certain basic parameters.” He then said the authorities shall not, as a matter of routine and without any basis, conduct raids and interfere with the business of such establishments.Massage parlour and spa owners had come to the court complaining that they were being subjected to raids, on a regular basis, by officials of anti-vice squad of Chennai police. They said such raids and the frequent interference by police not only spoiled their business, but also project ed them in poor light. It also amounted to interference with their fundamental right to carry on a lawful business, they said.

The petitions heavily relied on Justice K Chandru's July 2009 judgment that “majoritarian impulses rooted in moralistic tradition cannot impinge upon individual autonomy”. The judge had, however, added a word of caution that there was no prohibition for police to inspect and take appropriate action in cases of criminal activities.

On Wednesday, Justice Ramasubramanian pointed out that the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919 had a provision for seeking and granting permission for hairdressing, shaving salons or hair storing and packing, but not for beauty parlours, massage centres and spas.

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