A new draft bill seeking up to five-year jail term and a fine of Rs 50 lakh for the celebrities found endorsing misleading advertisements will be taken up by a group of ministers on Tuesday. This is following the Consumer Protection Bill 2015, introduced by the Centre last year to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act.
A Parliamentary Standing Committee had submitted its recommendations in April and after studying the panel’s report, the Consumer Affairs Ministry has accepted some key recommendations such as provisions for fixing liability on celebrities, stringent punishment for adulteration among others.
According to sources, the Department of Consumer Affairs has received comments from other ministries on the draft law.
Almost all the ministries have no objections to the proposed provision to impose hefty penalty and imprisonment to celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements as well as those involved in adulteration, they added.
A group of ministers, headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss the changes proposed by the Consumer Affairs Ministry in the draft law before placing it for the Cabinet nod.
Besides Jaitley, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Heath Minister J P Nadda, Transport Minister Nitin Gakari, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are part of the informal GoM.
According to sources, the ministry has proposed stringent provisions to tackle misleading advertisements as well as to fix liability on endorsers/celebrities.
“For the first time offence, a fine of Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment of up to two years. For second and subsequent offenses, a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of five years has been proposed for celebrities and brand ambassadors,” a source said.
In order to check the menace of adulteration, the ministry has proposed ‘penal offense’ and imprisonment at par with celebrities for violation. It has also proposed a provision for suspension and cancellation of licence.
Among the other provisions of draft law, a provision for penalty on consumers for frivolous complaints have been removed.
(With inputs from the PTI)