Ravi Balgobin Maharaj

 Ravi Balgobin Maharaj.

IN what has been the third judgment of its kind, a High Court judge has struck down a policy by the Customs and Excise Division over the importation of adult toys into the country.

What may have been seen as indecent and unacceptable in previous years may not necessarily be deemed in such a way presently, Justice Ricky Rahim said.

He made the comment as he delivered a ruling in favour of political activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj on Wednesday evening.

Maharaj had filed a hybrid judicial review and constitutional claim seeking to have the court quash a decision by the Comptroller of Excise to ban the importation of sex toys into Trinidad and Tobago.

The court previously ruled in favour of sexologist Dr Raj Ramnanan and an e-commerce consultant who brought similar claims.

In the ruling, Justice Rahim found that the policy restricting the importation of items that closely resembled male and female genitalia was irrational and unlawful.

In the 66-page ruling, Justice Rahim also held that such a policy infringed on the rights of Maharaj and others to the enjoyment of property and respect for their private and family life.

Further to that, the judge ordered the comptroller and the Office of the Attorney General to pay Maharaj $10,000 in vindicatory damages as well as his legal cost in bringing the claim.

“Such a policy is wholly disproportionate,” said the judge.

He said it was clear the provision that gave customs the power to ban the importation or certain items was meant for the preservation of public morality and decency.

But with societal change over the years, the judge said he was not of the view that the importation of items resembling male and female genitalia in anyway would derogate from such principles.

He went on to add that other considerations such as whether the items were to be used for sex therapy or other medical purposes.

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