Laws applicable to E-Commerce websites registered in other countries?

Selling of obscene articles such as sex toys etc are illegal in India, but there are thriving ecommerce platforms doing exactly that, how is this possible? Do they go unscathed because they have their companies registered in other countries? Or is it because the Indian law is so loosely termed that what constitutes as obscene is vague and they take advantage? Or is it something entirely different that I am missing? Again, just advertising such things is illegal or the whole process of procuring, warehousing etc is illegal? I just want to know how it works.

Answers (1)

170 votes

Oils, or lubes, or herbal and Ayurvedic medicines which promise enhanced performances for both men and women - these products have been in the market for a good 20-25 years now. And it is perfectly legal to market and sell them. bUT there is a lot of ambiguity when it comes to selling adult products in India,For instance, sexual wellness categorises condoms, lubes and gels as legal to be sold over the top pharmacies in the country, but selling sex toys is not. A retailer can import the products and even sell them if he or she manages to ensure
that the packaging, the marketing content, and the literature is not offensive to anyone.However, the concern arises only in the manner in which these sex toys/ apparels and related products are displayed and exhibited for sale in India,. "Under Indian law, obscenity is an offence. Therefore, if any of these items are advertised and/ or
displayed for sale using any obscene pictures, graphics, display mechanism, or otherwise in any obscene manner, then there could be a cause for concern."

The problem is one of definition. Neither the Indian Penal Code ('IPC') nor the Information Technology Act, 2000 ('IT Act'), define what 'Obscenity' is.

"Section 292 of the IPC and section 67 of the IT Act, (which corresponds to section 292 of the IPC) explain 'obscenity' to mean anything, which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest, or if its effect is to deprave and corrupt persons,"

"The fact that the content of such a product/ article is 'obscene', [means] it will fall certainly within the purview of Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code and hence [it is] illegal in India," 

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