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New legislation for curbing misleading advertisements opposed

     A seminar on “Impact of Misleading Advertisements on Consumers” was jointly organized by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Govt. of India and the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, on 11th December 2011.  The seminar was organized to ascertain the views of the different stakeholders on the government’s initiative to make a law for eradicating misleading advertisements. 

     Sri Pankaj Agarwala, Additional Secretary, in the Department of Consumer Affairs chaired the day-long interactions, which had participants representing the State Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu, Voluntary Consumer Organisations, FICCI, CII, ASCI, academicians and others.

     Sri Harish Bhat, COO, Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) said that 71 countries across the world have adopted self-regulation and felt the self-regulation is more suitable for containing misleading advertisements.

     Sri Rohinton Mehta, FICCI, felt that there was no need for any new legislation for regulating the advertisements as legislations lead to more corruption and delays.  Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has been doing a good job and it should be supported.

    Sri V.L.Rajesh, of CII fully endorsed the views expressed by Sri Mehta and said that we do not need more legislations, but better enforcement. 

     Sri I.Venkat, Chairman, ASCI said that China has adopted ASCI’s code and that spoke about the ASCI’s role in curbing unethical advertisements.  He wanted the government to initiate punitive action against companies and brands which fail to comply with Consumer Complaints Council (CCC)’s directive.

     Sri B.Vaidyanathan, Chief Mentor, Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela, said that there is no dearth of law in our country.  Unfortunately, India is rated among the bottom half of countries by Transparency International and many others.  Consumer Protection Act was thought of as a solution to the ever exploited consumers.  But, after the initial inertia, when everyone thought that something positive would happen, government itself in a step by step manner put a lid on the entire movement.  In this context he cited the illogical manner in which the representation in the apex consultative body, the Central Consumer Protection Council had been drastically reduced so as to make it a farce.  Curbing the misleading advertisement is the job of the professional and a professional body like ASCI should be allowed to do that rather than enacting a law and handing it to those who are unfamiliar to the domain.  The government should rather strengthen the ASCI and publicise its activities so that the objective of curbing unethical advertisements is achieved.  He also wanted the government to strengthen the consumer courts so that any individual can approach them against misleading advertisements and seek compensation.


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