Govt to set up panel on misleading ads

New Delhi: The government is considering to set up an inter-ministerial group to tackle the menace of misleading advertisements, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister K V Thomas said today.

"We may have an inter-ministerial group that can suggest suitable measures to curb misleading advertisements," Thomas told reporters on the sidelines of a national seminar here on misleading advertisements.

The problem of misleading ads continues to be serious in the country despite several legislations like Food Safety and Standards Act, Consumer Protection Act and the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, he said.

Although the laws are being enforced by different ministries there is a need for a comprehensive legal regime to prohibit misleading ads, he added.

The Consumer Affairs Ministry, which is framing a new law to curb of misleading advertisements, has started country-wide consultation with all stakeholders. The new law would allow consumers to seek legal action against false claims made by companies in their advertisement.

"A final view on strengthening legal controls would be taken after we obtain views from stakeholders and different ministries," Thomas said, adding that the widely accepted opinion is that both self-regulation and legal controls should work in synergy.

As it would be impossible to set clear-cut and details rules in era of Internet and interstice television, the minister felt that "both types of regulation should be applied with the ultimate aim of reaching the balance."

Currently, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory agency, does not penalise advertisers who release misleading ads.

In India, advertisements for cigarettes, liquor, pan masala, products that are harmful to the public continue to find a place on television channels despite the ban imposed by the government, the minister noted.