Faced with an unabated barrage of misleading advertisements on TV and in the print media, the government has come out with a plan for a strong regulatory body with sweeping powers to enforce and monitor its decisions.
“The regulatory body will harmonise outdated laws dealing with such ads,” said Pankaj Agrawala, additional secretary, ministry of consumer affairs.
In September, HT had reported how the PMO had cracked the whip on misleading ads and asked the consumer affairs ministry to prepare a draft of a regulatory mechanism.
Besides harmonising and reinforcing all outdated laws in force against misleading ads — there are as many as 13 acts under which misleading ads can be tried — the body would be able to initiate legal proceedings to put an end to a misleading ad or to even seek prohibition of an ad whose publication is imminent.
Legal proceedings can be initiated even when there is no proof of actual loss or damage to a consumer. The advertiser or producer can also be asked to produce evidence in support of claims made in an ad.
The new body was proposed in a draft paper circulated by the consumer affairs ministry at a seminar here. Food and consumer affairs minister KV Thomas said: “We may have an inter-ministerial group that can suggest suitable measures.”
“Prior to drawing up policy for new legislation, it is essential to evolve a consensual approach towards the whole issue,” said Shilpa Gupta, head (Retail and FMCG), FICCI.