It is a long-standing practice of roping in celebrities such as film stars, sportspersons, etc, to endorse products of a particular. It is usually done as a marketing strategy to attract a wide range of customers as the said celebrity already comes in with an active fan base. To protect the interests of consumers in cases of misleading advertisements the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 was enacted.
EFFECT AND PREAMBLE:
• The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 came into force on 20 July, 2020.
• This is an Act to provide for protection of the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
• Section 2 (28) defines “misleading advertisement” in relation to any product or service, means an advertisement, which—
(i) falsely describes such product or service; or
(ii) gives a false guarantee to, or is likely to mislead the consumers as to the nature, substance, quantity or quality of such product or service; or
(iii) conveys an express or implied representation which, if made by the manufacturer or seller or service provider thereof, would constitute an unfair trade practice; or
(iv) deliberately conceals important information;
Central Consumer Protection Authority:
Under Section 10 of the Act The Central Government shall establish a Central Consumer Protection Authority.
Duties of the Authority;
As per Sec 18 of the Act, The Central Authority shall—
• (a) protect, promote and enforce the rights of consumers as a class, and prevent violation of consumers rights under this Act;
• (b) prevent unfair trade practices and ensure that no person engages himself in unfair trade practices;
• (c) ensure that no false or misleading advertisement is made of any goods or services which contravenes the provisions of this Act or the rules or regulations made thereunder;
(d) ensure that no person takes part in the publication of any advertisement which is false or misleading.
Liability of celebrities
• Section 21 (2) of the Act States that, if the Central Authority is of the opinion that it is necessary to impose a penalty in respect of such false or misleading advertisement, by a manufacturer or an endorser, it may, by order, impose on manufacturer or endorser a penalty which may extend to ten lakh rupees:
• Provided that the Central Authority may, for every subsequent contravention by a manufacturer or endorser, impose a penalty, which may extend to fifty lakh rupees.
• Section 21(3) states that where the Central Authority deems it necessary, it may, by order, prohibit the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making endorsement of any product or service for a period which may extend to one year:
• Provided that the Central Authority may, for every subsequent contravention, prohibit such endorser from making endorsement in respect of any product or service for a period which may extend to three years.
• Section 21(4) states that, Where the Central Authority is satisfied after investigation that any person is found to publish, or is a party to the publication of, a misleading advertisement, it may impose on such person a penalty which may extend to ten lakh rupees.
• Section 21(5) states that, ‘No endorser shall be liable to a penalty under sub-sections (2) and (3) if he has exercised due diligence to verify the veracity of the claims made in the advertisement regarding the product or service being endorsed by him.
INSTANCES IN INDIA;
• Instances in India include the trolling of Yami Gautam and Shah Rukh Khan for endorsing Fair & Lovely and Fair & Handsome.
• M. S Dhoni was forced to step down as the brand ambassador of real estate firm Amrapali after homebuyers trolled him on Twitter about the delay in completion of the housing project.
• Several actors, including Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Mahesh Babu, Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma, Priyanka Chopra, Tiger Shroff and Hrithik Roshan, have also made appearances in the ads of mouth fresheners made by pan masala brands as a part of its surrogate advertising which is a form of advertising which is used to promote regulated products, like cigarettes and alcohol, in the disguise of another product
1. Ms. S. R. Ranjitha, B.A., B.L., Advocate practicing at Madras High Court, with 5 years of experience in Family and Property matters.
2. Sarfaras Feroz, 4th Year student of BBA, LLB (Hons) at Saveetha School of Law, SIMATS, Chennai.