Delhi district court order re-affirms ASCI’s remit over non-members

MUMBAI: Following passage of the Consumer Protection Act in parliament recently, the Delhi District Magistrate Court has passed an order stating that Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) decisions are applicable to non-members as well.

Until now a large number of advertisers avoided becoming members of ASCI under the notion that they would then not have to abide by ASCI decisions.

In a landmark judgement, the Delhi district court (Tis Hazari) has given a verdict in favour of ASCI in the PRIMORDIAL SYSTEMS P. LTD. V. THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS COUNCIL OF INDIA matter.

The complainant advertiser (Primordial Systems), argued that being a non-member of ASCI, the self-regulation code laid down by ASCI is not applicable to them and ASCI has no jurisdiction over the advertiser.

The court affirmed that ASCI, has the power to, after following due process, provide recommendations to the advertiser to modify or remove the advertisement containing claims that are considered as misleading by the ASCI’s independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC).

The court further reiterated that ASCI has been constituted as a Self-Regulatory body for the purpose of advertisements and the Code drafted and changed from time to time by ASCI has been given a statutory flavour. It is already held by the Supreme Court of India that ASCI looks into specific complaints regarding violation of programme code hence prima facie it cannot be said that entertainment of a complaint is without due process.

In view of the matter, the court settled that ASCI has the power to regulate the advertisements as per guidelines laid down.

Commenting on the development, ASCI chairman D Shivakumar said, “It is a very significant judgement passed by Delhi court as it clarifies that all advertisers come under the purview of ASCI’s guidelines. It also sends a clear message to the entire industry that investing in honest advertising is effective as dishonest advertising is not going to work. Clearly, for the consumers it is a big win as all the industry members whether they are part of ASCI or not, can no longer deceive them with misleading advertising.”

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