Minister of Consumer Affairs, Ram Vilas Paswan Photo: Facebook

CAPE TOWN - The government of India recently introduced a bill in the Indian Parliament to establish a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to regulate matters related to consumers’ rights, including false and misleading advertising. 

If passed, the CCPA would determine whether an advertisement is false or misdealing, then it may require that the advertisement be modified or discontinued. 

According to Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA) statement, the CCPA may also impose penalties on both the manufacturer and any endorsers. "It may also prohibit the endorser from acting as an endorser of any product or service for a period of up to three years."

Sharad Vadehra, Partner of Kan & Krishme in New Delhi said, "If passed, this new legislation will significantly increase the ability of the government to effectively address false advertising in India. The penalties for endorsers who make misleading claims should also help ensure that celebrities think twice before endorsing products".

Jeffrey Greenbaum, the GALA chairman & partner of Frankfurt Kurnit in New York, cautioned that all around the world, endorsers may be held liable for participating in false advertising.

According to an article published by The Economic Times, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting received over 700 complaints against misleading advertisements between 2015 and 2017.

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Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said, 190 complaints were received in 2017, 371 complaints in 2016 and 147 complaints in 2015. 

In an interview with The Economic Times, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Ram Vilas Paswan said, "To deal with misleading advertisements including those by manufacturers and celebrities, the government would put in place a mechanism to ensure strict punishment is given to those involved in such activities". 

Meanwhile, in 2015, the national carrier - South African Airways (SAA) in January 2015 was ordered to withdraw a print advertisement because it created unrealistic consumer expectations of seating and flight meals.

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The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa found in favour of a frequent flyer who complained that the advertisement, for business class domestic flights, was misleading because it showed passengers being served a full course meal with wine in reclining seats spaced far apart.

The passenger argued that it created the false expectation that these conditions applied on all local business class flights. 

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