They promote the sale of a product making false claims, they must be made to pay.
In a bid to make celebrity endorsers accountable for misleading advertisements and endorsements, a parliamentary committee has recommended a maximum punishment for five years’ jail and Rs 50 lakh fine.
If the proposed recommendations are incorporated in the consumer protection bill, brand ambassadors will have to be more careful when signing a contract with private players.
The recommendations will be submitted to Parliament soon. The panel went beyond the view of ministry that the punishment be pegged at three years and added another two years to the jail term and a steep financial penalty, sources told TOI .
While the proposal is not binding, it reflects the gathering consensus that celebrity endorsers should be liable for what they peddle for a fee.
“Since they promote the sale of a product making false claims, there was a strong view that such persons must be made to pay along with the manufacturer or promoter,” said a government official.
A parliamentary committee headed by Telugu Desam Party MP J C Divakar Reddy has sought to link penalty for misleading advertisements to the sale volumes of the products or services. Celebrity endorsers will have to cough up the penalty.
A second offence would entail Rs 50 lakh fine and imprisonment of five years. There is also a proposal to increase the penalty for subsequent offences, which can be linked to the sale volumes of such products or services.
The recommendations has been proposed keeping in mind that the consumers blindly believe endorsements by celebrities which include some national awardees. Sources said that the committee has also recommended stringent penalties for food adulteration or for any “extraneous” ingredient found in food items.