New Delhi: With rising number of complaints from consumers about misleading ads, the government is considering setting up a regulatory body to curb such advertisements on television and print media.
    
"We are seriously considering a regulatory agency to tackle misleading advertisements. We are still at a discussion stage," a senior Consumer Affairs Ministry official said.
    
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs had in August formed an inter-ministerial committee to consider all the possibilities to deal with the issue of misleading ads.
    
Last month, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had also directed the ministry to prepare a regulatory mechanism to keep a check on such advertisements.
    
Apart from setting up of a regulatory body, the ministry - which has a mandate to protect consumers from unfair business practices - is holding discussions with experts to know if misleading ads can be interpreted as 'unethical trade practise' under the Consumer Protection Act.
    
Unethical trade practise is an offence under the Act, which can be expanded to include misleading advertisements.
    
The official said, "The ministry is actively thinking whether to amend the Consumer Protection Act for expanding its scope or bring in new legislation to set up an executive arm to monitor such advertisements."
    
At present, the content of advertisements aired on television, radio and print media, is being regulated by private bodies like the Advertising Standards Council of India and News Broadcasting Association, he added.
    
The government intends to ensure that people are not duped through the advertisements. At present, there isn't a proper mechanism to ensure accountability of companies making promises through such advertisements.
    
"At present, the Food Processing, Health and Information and Broadcasting Ministries are separately dealing with misleading advertisements under the various acts," the official observed.
    
At least 30-40 countries have self regulation. In some countries, there is an executive body or trade commission to monitor misleading advertisement.

(Agencies)