Government To Study Global Practices Before Deciding Penalty For Celebrities Endorsing Misleading Brands

A new draft law prescribes up to 5 years' imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50 lakhs for such an offence.

30/08/2016 8:19 PM IST | Updated 30/08/2016 8:21 PM IST
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Actor John Abraham at a promotional event for Garnier Men in Mumbai on April 27, 2010. (Photo by Yogen Shah/India Today Group/Getty Images)

New Delhi, Aug 30 (PTI) — Laws in other countries will be studied before taking a final call on stringent punishment, including imprisonment, for celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements and those involved in adulteration, a group of ministers decided today.

A new draft law, which prescribes a jail term of up to 5 years and a fine of Rs 50 lakh for celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements, was taken up the group headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The Centre in last August had introduced the Consumer Protection Bill 2015, in Lok Sabha to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act. A Parliamentary Standing Committee had also submitted its recommendations in April.

After studying the panel's report, the Consumer Affairs Ministry accepted some key recommendations such as provisions for fixing liability on celebrities and stringent punishment for adulteration, among others.

"We had a lengthy discussion. Today, it (draft bill) was not finalised. We decided to study the laws of other countries for celebrities endorsing misleading ads and those involved in adulteration. We will study and keep that information in the next meeting," Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters after the GoM meeting.

The bill, incorporating key changes suggested by the panel, will definitely be placed before Parliament in the coming Winter Session, he added.

"The next Parliament session will be in November. There is still a lot of time to finalise the draft law," he noted.

ALSO READ: It's Unfair To Haul Up Celebs For The Failings Of The Brands They Endorse

Besides Paswan, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Minister of State for Food C.L. Chaudhary were present in the informal GoM meeting.

According to sources, the ministry has proposed stringent provisions to tackle the issue of misleading advertisements as well as to fix liability on endorsers/celebrities.

"For the first time offence, a fine of Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment of up to two years. For second and subsequent offenses, a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of five years has been proposed for celebrities and brand ambassadors," a source said.

In order to check the menace of adulteration, the ministry has proposed 'penal offense' and imprisonment at par with celebrities for violation. It has also proposed a provision for suspension and cancellation of licence.

The ministry has also accepted the panel's recommendation to include 'deficiency in services' in product liability.

On panel's suggestion, it has agreed to provide an enabling provision for rule making to regulate e-commerce and direct selling.

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