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Misleading ads: Public figures must act responsibly while endorsing products, says SC

May 07,2024

It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a as advertisers and endorsers are equally responsible for issuing misleading advertisements, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday. Clamping down on misleading advertisements, the apex court directed that before an advertisement is permitted to be issued, a self-declaration be obtained from the advertisers on the line of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.

Rule 7 of the 1994 rules deals with advertisement code and stipulates that advertisements carried in the cable service shall be designed to be in conformity with the laws and should not offend morality, decency and religious susceptibilities of the subscribers.

“We are of the opinion that advertisers, advertising agencies and endorsers are equally responsible for issuing false and misleading advertisements,” a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said.

“Endorsements by celebrities, influencers and public figures go a long way in promoting products and it is imperative for them to act with responsibility while endorsing any product in the course of advertisement and taking responsibility for the same…,” the bench observed.

The top court said the ministries concerned need to set up a specific procedure which will encourage consumers to lodge complaints regarding misleading advertisements and the complaints be taken to their logical conclusion.

It said self-declarations by advertisers shall be uploaded on the ‘Broadcast Seva’ portal which runs under the aegis of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Regarding advertisements in the print media, the bench said the ministry shall create a portal within four weeks and advertisers shall file self-declaration before issuing any advertisements.

The bench said the proof of filing self-declaration has to be made available by the advertiser to the broadcaster or publisher.

It also asked the health ministry to file an affidavit regarding complaints received from 2018 onwards by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India on misleading advertisements concerning food products and also details of action taken or proposed to be taken on them.

The bench referred to the Central Consumer Protection Authority guidelines including those related to children-targeted advertisements and duties of the manufacturer, service provider, advertiser and advertising agency.

It also perused the affidavits filed by the ministries of Ayush, consumer affairs and information and broadcasting.

Source: Economic Times

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