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Sansad TV: Perspective- No Misleading Advertisements

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Introduction:

Aiming to curb misleading advertisements and protect the consumers, who may be exploited or affected by such advertisements, the Central Consumer Protection authority under the Department of Consumer Affairs has notified Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022. The guidelines seek to ensure that consumers are not being fooled with unsubstantiated claims, exaggerated promises, misinformation and false claims. These guidelines define bait advertisement, surrogate advertisement and clearly provides what constitutes as free claim advertisements. Preemptive provisions have been laid down on advertisements targeting children. Clear Guidelines have also been put in place for duties of manufacturer, service provider, advertiser and advertising agency along with penalties for violation of these guidelines.

Central Consumer Protection Authority:

  • The authority is being constituted under Section 10(1) of The Consumer Protection Act, 2019. 
  • To protect the rights of the consumer by cracking down on unfair trade practices, and false and misleading advertisements that are detrimental to the interests of the public and consumers.
  • It will be headquartered in the National Capital Region of Delhibut the central government may set up regional offices in other parts of the country.
  • Its Functions include: Inquire or investigate into matters relating to violations of consumer rights or unfair trade practices suo motu, or on a complaint received, or on a direction from the central government.
  • Recall goods or withdrawal of services that are “dangerous, hazardous or unsafe.
  • Pass an order for refund the prices of goods or services so recalled to purchasers of such goods or services; discontinuation of practices which are unfair and prejudicial to consumer’s interest”.
  • Impose a penalty up to Rs 10 lakh, with imprisonment up to two years, on the manufacturer or endorser of false and misleading advertisements. The penalty may go up to Rs 50 lakh, with imprisonment up to five years, for every subsequent offence committed by the same manufacturer or endorser.
  • Ban the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making endorsement of any products or services in the future, for a period that may extend to one year. The ban may extend up to three years in every subsequent violation of the Act.
  • File complaints of violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

Guidelines and Analysis:

  • The Central Consumer Protection authority (CCPA) under the Department of Consumer Affairs has notified ‘Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022’ with an objective to curb misleading advertisements and protect the consumers, who may be exploited or affected by such advertisements.
  • The guidelines seek to ensure that consumers are not being fooled with unsubstantiated claims, exaggerated promises, misinformation and false claims. Such advertisements violates various rights of consumers such as right to be informed, right to choose and right to be safeguarded against potentially unsafe products and services.
  • The CCPA has been established under section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 for regulating matters relating to violation of the rights of the consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and consumers and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
  • In exercise of the powers conferred by section 18 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, to CCPA, the Guidelines were notified
  • Misleading advertisement has already been defined under section 2(28) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • The present guidelines define “bait advertisement”, “surrogate advertisement” and clearly provides what constitutes as “free claim advertisements”.
  • An advertisement for junk foods, including chips, carbonated beverages and such other snacks and drinks shall not be advertised during a programme meant for children or on a channel meant exclusively for children
  • It states an advertisement of any goods, product or service that addresses or targets childrenshall not –
  • be such as to develop negative body image in children;
  • Give any impression that such goods, products or services are better than the natural or traditional food that children may be consuming.
  • It states any advertisement that offers promotional gifts to persuade children to buy goods, product or service without necessity or promotes illogical consumerism shall be discouraged.
  • Also bars Indian citizens living abroad from endorsing such advertisementsthat have been barred for Indian professionals living in the country.
  • Endorsers are required to disclose their material connection with the endorsed product or service, and specify duties of manufacturer, service provider, advertiser and advertising agency.
  • No surrogate advertisement or indirect advertisementshall be made for goods or services whose advertising is otherwise prohibited or restricted by law, by circumventing such prohibition or restriction and portraying it to be an advertisement for other goods or services, the advertising of which is not prohibited or restricted by law.