Misleading Advertisements on Consumer Goods

Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the practices of making any statement, whether orally or in writing or by visible representation which falsely represents that the goods are of a particular standards, quality, quantity, grade, composition, style or model; falsely represents that the services are of a particular standards, quality or grade; represents that the goods or services have sponsorship, approval, performance, characteristics, accessories, uses or benefits which such goods or services do not have; makes a false or misleading representation concerning the need for, or the usefulness of, any goods or services; is treated as an unfair trade practice against which a consumer can file a complaint in the appropriate Consumer Forum established under the provisions of the Act.

If the complaint is proved, the Consumer Forum can order discontinuance of the unfair trade practice or not to repeat it; not to offer the hazardous goods for sale; for issuance of corrective advertisement to neutralize the effect of misleading advertisement at the cost of the opposite party responsible for issuing such misleading advertisement.

It can also order for payment of compensation to the consumer for any loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to the negligence of the opposite party.

Additionally, to tackle the misleading advertisements, the complaints received by the Department of Consumer Affairs are handled through the Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI), a voluntary self-regulatory body of Advertisement Industry, through an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution in its 9th report on the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 has recommended stringent provisions for tackling misleading advertisements as well as fixing responsibility on endorsers/celebrities.

The Press Council of India takes cognizance, suo-motu, or on complaints of the contents in print media which are in violation of the ‘Norms of Journalistic conduct’.

Similarly all advertising channels appearing in private satellite TV channels are regulated in accordance with the Advertising code stipulated by Ministry of Information Broadcasting.