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Celebs may face 3-year ban for endorsing misleading ads, says GoM

The GoM recommended that the first time offenders should be fined Rs 10 lakh and banned for one year, while the second and subsequent offenders should be fined Rs 50 lakh and banned for up to three years
Arun Jaitley : Union Finance Minister

Celebrities who endorse products with unrealistic and dishonest claims may face a ban for up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 50 lakhs, a high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) assigned to look into the issue has decided.

The GoM headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, has decided to drop a panel’s recommendation of jail term to celebrities found guilty for appearing in ‘misleading’ advertisements.

The group also includes Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Communications & IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Health Minister J P Nadda, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. The GoM decided to do away with the recommendation of imprisonment to celebrities saying that such provision does not exist in any country.

Consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan has pivoted  the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 which has already been introduced in Lok Sabha to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act.  Paswan has said, “Our efforts will be to pass the Bill in the winter session after the proposal is cleared by the Union Cabinet.”

The Consumer Affairs Ministry will now seek approval for moving these additional amendments to the new Consumer Protection Bill 2015.

The GoM recommended that the first time offenders should be fined Rs 10 lakh and banned for one year, while the second and subsequent offenders should be fined Rs 50 lakh and banned for up to three years, the official said.

A Parliamentary panel had recommended a fine of Rs 10 lakh and a jail term of up to two years for first time offence, while a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of five years for second and subsequent offence.

The suggestions are likely to bring relief to celebrities as it has done away with the jail penalty. After the ban on Nestle India Ltd’s Maggi Noodles the issue of accountability of celebrities as brand endorsers had came into the spotlight.

From last few years celebrities have been facing public ire for endorsing brands that did not meet expectations.

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