New Delhi: The decisions of advertising indutsry watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India will be binding on both its members as well as non-members, said the Delhi district court (Tis Hazari), in a ruling on Monday.
In the case of Primordial Systems Private Limited vs the Advertising Standards Council of India, the court has given a verdict in favour of advertising self-regulatory body.
The complainant advertiser (Primordial Systems), argued that not being a member of the ASCI, the self-regulation code laid down by the ASCI is not applicable to them and that the ASCI has no jurisdiction over the advertiser. The court affirmed that the 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 misleading by the body’s independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) .
The court clearly stated that though the complainant is not a member of the ASCI but is indulging in advertising, for which the ASCI has made a Self-Regulation Code and for breach of that, the ASCI entertain complaints. Thus, if the ASCI makes a recommendation and in pursuance thereto the advertising agency or the television channel refuses to air the advertisement of the complainant, they would be entitled to do so. No merit is thus found in the argument of the counsel of complainant being a non-member of the ASCI and the ASCI thus having no jurisdiction over the complainant.
The court further reiterated that the 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 the ASCI has been given a statutory flavour. It is already held by the Supreme Court that the 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.
The judgement comes on the back of the Consumer Protection Act passed in Parliament recently, which seeks to penalize misleading ads placed on virtually any medium, including television, radio, print, outdoor ads, e-commerce, direct selling and telemarketing. The bill also recognized the ASCI’s status as self-regulatory industry body.
D. Shivakumar, chairman, ASCI, said, “It is a very significant judgement passed by the Delhi court as it clarifies that all advertisers come under the purview of the 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 consumers this is a big win as industry members, whether they are part of ASCI or not, can no longer deceive them with misleading advertising."