ASCI decisions will be applicable to members as well as non-members: Court

The court has said ASCI has the power to regulate advertisements as per guidelines

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Aug 19, 2019 2:28 PM

A District Magistrate Court has ordered that the Advertising Standards Council Of India’s (ASCI) decisions will be applicable to members as well as non-members.

The order comes on the back of the Consumer Protection Act passed in Parliament recently.
Until now a large number of advertisers avoided becoming members of ASCI under the mistaken notion that they would then not have to abide by ASCI decisions, a statement released by ASCI has said.

This landmark judgment was passed by the Delhi district court (Tis Hazari) in the case of PRIMORDIAL SYSTEMS P. LTD. V. THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS COUNCIL OF INDIA. The court has given a verdict in the favour of advertising self-regulatory body ASCI.

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 release says: “The court has clearly stated that though the complainant is not a member of ASCI but is indulging in activity, viz. of advertising, for which ASCI has made a Self-Regulation Code and for breach of that, ASCI entertains complaints. Thus, if ASCI makes a recommendation and in pursuance thereto the advertising agency or the television channel refuse 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 ASCI and ASCI thus having no jurisdiction over the complainant.”

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, the court has said. It has been 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, the statement further said.

The court has settled that ASCI has the power to regulate advertisements as per guidelines laid down.

According to D Shivakumar, ASCI Chairman, “It is a very significant judgement passed by the 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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