Investigating agency to probe misleading ads



New Delhi: The government is planning to set up an agency to look into consumer complaints against misleading advertisements, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister KV Thomas has said.

"At present, we do not have any agency to investigate the consumer complaints regarding misleading advertisements. We are considering creating an agency to investigate under the Department of Consumer Affairs," Thomas told reporters here last evening.

In August, the Consumer Affairs Ministry had formed an inter-ministerial committee to consider various options to deal with the issue of misleading ads.

Last month, the Prime Minister's Office had directed the ministry to put in place a regulatory mechanism to keep a check on such advertisements.

Yesterday, the minister met representatives of the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) as part of the government's initiative to check misleading ads.

The proposed agency will have experts from various fields to check the claims made by companies in their advertisements.

"For instance, if an advertisement of a product promises fair skin within a period, a medical expert will examine such claims," a senior ministry official explained.

Thomas expressed concerns over rising consumer complaints against misleading ads particularly in regional languages.

Pointing out that there are three-four legislations under different ministries that deal with misleading ads, he said: "We are discussing how there can be a co-ordination between them."

At present, the Food Processing, Health and Information and Broadcasting Ministries are separately dealing with misleading advertisements under various acts.

The government intends to ensure that people are not misled through such advertisements.

At present, there is not a proper mechanism to ensure accountability of companies making promises through such advertisements, an official said.

PTI