20 Apr 2012

Improved Enforcement and Regular Surveillance Must to Check Misleading Advertisements - Prof. K. V. Thomas

Minister of consumer affairs, food & public distribution, Prof. K.V. Thomas had said that there is urgent need to update laws and improve enforcement to protect consumers from misleading advertisements as despite several provisions false and misleading advertisements continue to exploit the consumers and now have a wider canvas. He said that widely accepted opinion is that both self-regulation and legal controls should work in synergy. Prof Thomas was addressing a national Seminar on misleading claims in advertisements organised by the Department of Consumer Affairs with a view to protect the consumers from exploitation. Full text of Minister’s address is given below: 

“I welcome you all to this national Seminar on misleading claims in advertisements organised by the Department with a view to find a way to tackle or regulate them effectively so as to protect the consumers from exploitation. As you all know the Department of Consumer Affairs has started country-wide consultations with all stakeholders on this important matter to elicit their views in order to come to a consensus on what suitable measures could be put in place to regulate such misleading advertisements. 

Advertisements have become a part and parcel of our lives today. However, it is necessary to use advertisements with caution to avoid a vicious effect on social values. Advertisements are a crucial aspect of any type of business because they promote products or let the public know about them. Consequently, when this route is exploited by unscrupulous businesses persons to mislead the public, then it may destroy the very image of advertising. 

Though advertising is a useful tool to give information which are factual and accurate, questions are frequently raised whether it creates class consciousness, materialism, conspicuous consumption and other values which are not universally accepted. For most companies, the question is how often to communicate with the consumers. To reach the target markets advertisers sometimes overstep the legal and social norms. 

The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech. Nevertheless, the government is authorized to regulate commercial advertisements. It can restrict deceptive, unfair, false and misleading advertisements. An advertisement is termed deceptive when it misleads people affecting the purchasing behaviour of the consumer. In India, advertisements for cigarettes, liquor, pan masala (chewed tobacco), products that are harmful to the public continue to find a place in the TV channels, despite the ban imposed by the Government of India. 

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