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The IUP Journal of Law Review :
Misleading Advertisements in India: A Comparative and Critical Analysis
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The influence of advertisements on consumer choice is undeniable, and that is why advertisements should be fair and truthful. Misleading advertisements distort competition and of course consumer choice. Even after 30 years of enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and even after a paradigm shift from Caveat Emptor to Caveat Venditor, the manufacturers and service providers of all the sectors exploit the Indian consumers. The question that arises is whether advertising is a boon or a bane. There are always two sides to the coin. Advertising is a must for economic growth but should not be allowed to mislead or become a nuisance factor. Consumer must be aware of his rights, raise voice against exploitation and seek redressal of his grievances. Consumers’ consciousness determines the effectiveness of consumerism. It is the duty of the consumer to identify his rights and protect them. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 does not have any provisions which specifically deal with misleading advertisements. However, they do prohibit “unfair trade practices” and provide for remedies for such cases. Advertisements may be brought under these provisions; however, they are not sufficient to deal with all the aspects of advertisements, which might require regulation. As opposed to India, a number of foreign legislations have specific laws dealing with advertisements. Hence, this paper aims to make a thorough, comprehensive, comparative and critical study of misleading advertisements in India, identify the hurdles to achieving the basic objects of the consumer welfare legislations to control misleading advertisements, and find out the solutions for the same in the Consumer Protection Bill 2015.

 
 
 

Advertisements are an important cog in the machine of industry. They play the role of creating and increasing the consumer base for goods and services. In the cutthroat competition, truth and ethics often take a back seat and advertisements more often than not make tall claims to increase their consumer base. The purpose of the advertisement is not just providing information but also influencing the consumers to purchase that particular product. There is no doubt about the fact that advertisements impact consumer choice and thus it is essential that the advertisements should be truthful.

Misleading advertisements have the potential to have serious impact on consumers. There can be serious health implications if the consumer base is vulnerable, especially children, young adults and illiterate people. It is also very easy to influence vulnerable consumer group as they are impressionable, ill-informed and do not have the faculty to make informed decisions. Advertising standards therefore are crucial to regulate the advertising industry to prevent negative consequences. It is a challenging task to have a regulatory mechanism for controlling unfair trade practices which is effectively enforced.

 
 
 

Law Review Journal, Misleading Advertisements in India, A Comparative and Critical Analysis