CHENNAI: Emphasizing the need to regulate the mushrooming of spas and beauty parlours offering massage and other services, the Madras High Court has directed the State to enact a law and frame necessary guidelines to streamline these service providers. There are 225 spas being run in the city.
At the same time, Justice V Ramasubramaniam restrained the police from conducting any raids as a matter of routine and without any basis, and interfere with the business.
“If the government wishes to regulate the business/profession of health centres, massage parlours and spas, they must take recourse either to the enactment of a legislation or to the issue of rules/by-laws in exercise of the power conferred by the respective enactments to make subordinate legislation,” the Judge said on December 9.
The Judge was disposing of a batch of 23 writ petitions from S Rangaraj and others, seeking to restrain the police from interfering with their business activities.
Accepting the arguments of senior advocate PS Raman, advocate B Rabu Manohar and others, the Judge observed that it was necessary to ascertain whether the businesses carried on by the petitioners were lawful or not. For that, one must see if it is prohibited by law. If not, it must at least be regulated by law. In case it is not carried on as per the regulations, it would be unlawful, the Judge said.
Discussing at length regulation of spas abroad and an earlier judgment of Justice K Chandru (retired) that the police have no legal right to prevent a health spa run by a citizen, even if some of the services rendered therein are by persons belonging to the opposite sex, Justice Ramasubramanian pointed out that the police did not contend in this case that the massage centers/spas etc., run by the petitioners are prohibited by law.
Disposing of the writ petitions, the judge said in specific cases where the police have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence punishable under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act has been or is being committed, it is open to them to take action, after scrupulously following all the steps indicated in Section 15 of the Act.
The police may take appropriate steps for bringing in either a new legislation or a subordinate legislation in terms of the provisions of the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act or the Chennai City Police Act, so that public order, decency and morality, which can form the basis for a regulatory law under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, are taken care of, the Judge added and directed the government to file a report on or before March 31,2015 about the decision so taken.