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Misleading advertisements are a common thing these days in both print & electronic media. Even the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), Government of India has information on a large number of instances of misleading advertisements in various media.The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a voluntary self-regulatory body of Advertisement Industry has been appointed by the government as their executive arm to process complaints received about misleading advertisements. As per information shared by the government in the Lok Sabha, between 2013 and 2016, ASCI found more than 500 instances of advertisements in electronic media that were making misleading, false and unsubstantiated claims.
Between April 2015 and July 2016, complaints have been received against 33 advertisements of Patanjali Ayurved Limited out of which 25 were found to be violating the ASCI code.How are Misleading Advertisements dealt?
Section 2 (1) (r) of the existing Consumer Protection Act 1986 states that the practice of making any statement, whether orally or in writing or by visible representation which falsely represents that the goods are of a particular standard, quality, quantity, grade, composition style or model; falsely represents that the services are of a particular standard, quality or grade, falls under unfair trade practices.A consumer can make a complaint against unfair trade practice in a Consumer Forum established under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. If the complaint is upheld by a Consumer Forum, it can order for removal of the defect pointed out, replacing the goods with new goods free from any defect, issuance of corrective advertisement to neutralize the effect of misleading advertisement at the cost of the party responsible for issuing such misleading advertisement, etc.The DoCA has recently launched a portal to enable consumers to register Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA). After preliminary scrutiny of the grievances registered on the portal, the grievances are forwarded to the State Government concerned or the respective Central Regulator based on the subject matter. Between March 2015 and March 2016, 1046 complaints have been received through the GAMA portal.
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