The Delhi High Court on Thursday stayed a part of the guidelines issued by the Delhi Government and the licensing policy by the three municipal corporations, which prohibited cross-gender massages in private spas and wellness centers functioning in the city (Delhi Wellness Spa Association v Government of NCT of Delhi and Ors)..Justice Rekha Palli observed that even though the government and corporations have claimed that they had extensive discussions and consultations with stakeholders involved in the profession, prima facie, it appeared that people who were affected by the decision were not given due consideration and therefore, the operation of a part of the guidelines and policy has to be stayed..The Court said that even though it agreed with the intention of the government and the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) to stop illegal activities in the guise of spas and to regulate their functioning, but this kind of absolute ban on cross-gender massages cannot be said to have any reasonable connection with the purpose of the policy. .Justice Palli meanwhile expressed concerns over the illegally-functioning spas in the national capital, as it was informed that only around 400 of them have licenses while estimates show that nearly 5,000 such centers are functioning.Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the State government, cited several instances of girls from poor background and marginalised sections of the society being forced into prostitution through these illegally functioning spas.Mehra added that the Delhi Commissioner for Women (DCW) has documented such cases and rescued many girls who were forced into prostitution. The Court was informed that many licenced spas openly advertise on their website that they provide sexual pleasures..Taking note of these submissions, the Court directed the Delhi Police to inspect all the illegally-functioning spas in the city. The police was directed that once the inspection of the illegal spas is complete, it will inspect all the licensed ones too and investigate whether any illegal activity is going on there. If the police finds any illegality, they have to forward the information to the municipal corporations for action.The petitioner-spas were directed to file an affidavit of its members along with the copies of their licenses. The police and the municipal corporations have been directed to submit their reports before the Court by the next date of hearing, scheduled on January 11..The petitioners had challenged the 'Guidelines for operation of Spa Massage Centers in Delhi' arguing that its provisions were regressive, restrictive and contrary to fundamental rights of people involved in the profession. The petitioners said that these steps stigmatised the profession with which they have been associated for several decades.While the guidelines were issued by the Delhi government in August, the three corporations framed their policies based on these guidelines in September and October.