Advertisers to submit self-declarations before promoting products in media, SC orders

Advertisers intending to run ads in TV channels should upload their self-declarations on the I&B Ministry’s ‘Broadcast Seva’ portal; the court directed the Ministry to open a similar portal for print advertisers in four weeks

Updated - May 07, 2024 10:08 pm IST

Published - May 07, 2024 09:55 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The SC has passed orders to protect consumers from being trapped by misleading advertisements.

The SC has passed orders to protect consumers from being trapped by misleading advertisements. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that advertisers should submit self-declarations that they are not misrepresenting or making false claims about products before promoting them in the media.

The Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah passed the order to protect consumers from being trapped by misleading advertisements.

As a “tide-over” measure, the court ordered that advertisers should submit their self-declarations in line with the Cable TV Network Regulations Rules of 1994.

Advertisers intending to run advertisements in TV channels should upload their self-declarations on the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s ‘Broadcast Seva’ portal. A copy should be given to the broadcaster also.

The court directed the Ministry to open a similar portal for print advertisers in four weeks.

“Immediately after the portal is activated, all ads in the Press/Print Media, the advertisers shall file their self-declarations before issuing advertisements,” the court said.

The Bench made it clear that social media influencers, celebrities and public figures promoting products should act with a sense of responsibility and must take care to not be a part of “deceptive advertising”.

“A person who endorses a product should have adequate experience and information about the product,” the court observed in the order.

The court further directed the Centre to set a proper and specific procedure by which an aggrieved consumer could file his complaint against misleading advertisements and misbranding. The Centre should ensure that the consumer is made fully aware and apprised of the action taken on the complaint and its logical conclusion.

“The consumer should not be left oblivious of the outcome of the complaint,” the court noted.

In a further development, the Union government withdrew with immediate effect an AYUSH Ministry letter of August 29, 2023 “omitting” Rule 170 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

This provision dealt with action to be taken against objectionable advertisements.

“The letter, which is nothing more than an administrative instruction, cannot put on hold Rule 170, which remains a part of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945,” the court clarified.

The Bench further ordered the Ministry of Health to provide data on the number of complaints received by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India about misleading advertisements and misbranding of food and health products.

The directions came in a case stemming from the misleading advertisements run by Patanjali Ayurved, co-founded by yoga guru Baba Ramdev, for years.

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