The government is likely to set up an inter-ministerial committee to look into ways and means of checking false and misleading advertisements effectively, minister for consumer affairs and public distribution K V Thomas said today.
Delivering key note address at conference on 'strengthening self regulation of advertising content', organised by the Advertising Standards Council of India, the minister expressed concern over misleading advertisements targeting vulnerable sections of society - children, women and senior citizens.
He said there is urgent need to prevent such advertisement before they appear and harm the innocent consumers by strengthening existing laws and self regulatory mechanism.
He said his ministry as the nodal ministry for protecting consumer interest, is seriously looking at consumer complaints about false and misleading advertisements and debating on how best to tackle this issue.
''Is self-regulation adequate to deal with the problem or do we need to bring in a new law? Will the existing laws work if they are brought in tune with the times or do we need a new regulation? These are all issues before us and we need answers quickly because there is a clamour from consumers and consumer groups for a comprehensive and effective mechanism to put a stop to advertisements that violate their basic rights to choose, information and safety,'' the minister said.
He said the exit of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission, which used to look at false and misleading advertisements, under its provision to deal with unfair trade practices, is also being felt now.
While the Consumer Protection Act provides for protection of consumers from unfair trade practices and the consumer courts have delivered some excellent judgments vis-à-vis misleading advertisements, they do not have the power to examine advertisements suo motu, to facilitate quick action through interim injunctions; nor do they have an investigative machinery, as existed under the MRTP Act, he pointed out.