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Govt to make celebrities accountable for misleading ads in new Bill

NEW DELHI: Celebrity brand ambassadors will now be accountable for the products that they endorse. They could land up in jail for five years apart from paying a penalty of Rs Rs 50 lakh (Rs 5 million) if the products that they support make unrealistic claims.

A Parliamentary panel’s recommendations on penalising celebrities for misleading ads has been accepted by the government.

The Law Ministry has given its consent. A draft Cabinet note was moved following an approval to the proposed official amendments by the Consumer Affairs Ministry. The Law Ministry has cleared significant changes in the existing legal regime to make celebrities liable for such advertisements, The Indian Express reported. The changes are expected to be cleared in a Cabinet meeting in the coming week.

Section 75B of the new Bill seeks to make any “false or misleading” endorsement which is “prejudicial to the interest of any consumer” a penal offence, punishable with a jail term of up to two years and a fine of Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) for the first such offence, and imprisonment of five years along with a fine of Rs 50 lakh for the second and subsequent offences, the daily reported.

As per the new Bill, the onus would be on celebrity brand ambassadors to prove their innocence.

According to Section 75A, a manufacturer and service provider is also legally responsible for any false and misleading ads. The penalties are same as that prescribed for celebrity brand ambassadors.