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Italian luxury brand could face legal trouble after Maneka Gandhi’s letter for probe

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Days after fashion designers Stefano and Niccolo Ricci said they got govt nod to import crocodile skin to India, Gandhi writes seeking probe into the matter.

New Delhi: The India operations of a well-known Italian luxury fashion and lifestyle brand may face legal hurdles as Union Minister and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi has asked for an investigation into their imports to the country.

Days after Italian fashion designers Stefano Ricci and Niccolo Ricci said they have obtained permission from the Modi government to import crocodile skin to India, Women and Child Development Minister Gandhi has asked for an investigation into their imports calling them “patently illegal”.

The brand's famed crocodile skin shoes | Facebook
The brand’s famed crocodile skin shoes | Facebook

On the Walk The Talk show with ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta, the owners of the fashion brand said they are seeking to expand their presence in India, and have obtained the requisite permission from the government.

“Our government will talk to your government and then there is a lot of paper work. But in the end we can deliver, we can deliver our crocodile shoes or briefcase or belt,” Niccolo said in the interview when asked about permissions from the Indian government.

Also read: Indian designs are chic and people here are very elegant, says Stefano Ricci

Maneka Gandhi’s objections

Taking note of the statement, Gandhi shot off a letter to the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), arguing that the import of exotic skins of reptiles such as crocodiles and alligators was banned in India in 2017.

“In an interview on NDTV 5.11.2018, an Italian father and son duo who own a luxury fashion house called ‘Stefano Ricci’ claimed that they have obtained permission to import crocodile skin in India,” Gandhi wrote in the letter dated 6 November, 2018.

“The EXIM policy was revised on 3rd January 2017 to prohibit the import of several wild animals, including reptiles,” the letter said.

“Moreover, Crocodylus Porosus is protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and it is patently illegally to import, or trade in such species or any species of wild reptiles,” she wrote.

The DGFT, which comes under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, banned the import of skins of reptiles through a notification issued on 3 January.

Gandhi has asked the DGFT to “look into the matter immediately and have this company’s imports investigated into to ensure compliance with the law.”

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