When the customs department found something amiss about baby chairs and yoga mats being imported by two Chennai companies, they were in for a surprise on Friday. What they uncovered was two consignments of adult toys worth Rs 79 lakh.
In a statement to the press on Thursday, the Customs department revealed that two Chennai-based companies, Mahi Enterprises and Legend Resources Groups, were found to be importing goods that were in violation of the Customs Act. The adult toys were cleverly masked inside other items in the consignment like wall clocks, broomsticks and decorative showpieces. These adult toys were imported from China, says the statement.
The Commissioner of Customs (Preventive) also said in the statement that the adult toys were prohibited since they constitute import of obscene representation or figures. According to Section 11 of the Customs Act 1962, any goods or material of specific description which would cause grave injury to maintenance of public order and standards of decency or morality are prohibited for importation and exportation.
According to a report in The Hindu, which quotes a data point from the thatspersonal.com, sales data reveal that Tamil Nadu and Chennai are the website's fourth largest State and city markets for adult toys in India. Coimbatore is also on the list of upcoming cities.
While purchasing adult toys is easier than ever before through e-commerce websites which promise secure packaging and delivery, their import is still dividing legal opinion of what constitutes obscene. According The Hinduâ€™s report, one lawyer says the case depends on the discretion of the customs officer dealing with the case.
While officials can only make arrest for consignments or parcels above Rs 1 crore, they resort to sending show cause notices for smaller shipments.
According to one report in June 2017, the Chennai airport customs department seized 342 parcels of adult toys in the last financial year.