In a landmark judgement by the Delhi district court (Tis Hazari), has ruled that advertisers cannot shield themselves from action, merely by citing that they are not members of The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
The District Magistrate Court’s order states that ASCI decisions are applicable to members as well as non-members. 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.
The ruling was made in the case of Primordial Systems versus ASCI. The court 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.
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 Hon'ble 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.
D Shivakumar, chairman (ASCI), 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.”