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Parliament panel asks Govt to control misleading ads; suggests imposition of hefty penalties & bans

The panel also suggested that various acts related to protecting the consumers be amended. It also stated that defaulters of such acts may be taking advantage of loopholes

A Parliament Panel has asked the Consumer Affairs Ministry to devise a mechanism to control misleading advertisements. It has suggested options such as hefty penalties and imposing a ban to prevent companies from publishing misleading ads in the future.

The Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution presented its report on demand for grants related to the Department of Consumer Affairs in the Parliament.

"The committee notes that advertisements of various products are being launched on televisions, other electronic and print media without ascertaining their genuineness which misleads the consumers of the country to a great extent," said the report. 

It further asked for hefty penalties and bans to be imposed to further prevent companies from publishing misleading ads. "In this context, the committee further desire that the agency/company, whose ads are found fake as such be de-listed for the advertisement in future with imposition of hefty penalty and/or punishment to check and balance these advertisements flooded on the electronic and print media, etc."

The panel also suggested that various acts related to protecting the consumers be amended. It also stated that defaulters of such acts may be taking advantage of loopholes. 

According to the panel, the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and the Prevention of Black-Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities, 1980 have been delegated to the states.

As per it, a total of 1,00,05 persons were arrested and out of them only 712 persons were convicted in 2020 in line to such raids and convection. In 2021, out of 15,450 arrested persons, only 1,034 were convicted.

“The committee do not understand the rationale behind this downward trend in prosecution against raid," the report said. 

"The committee, therefore, desire the Ministry to find out the reasons for non-conviction of the persons arrested and not prosecuted and take immediate action to refrain them from indulgence in malpractices and if need be, to amend the relevant Acts," it added. 

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