₹50 Lakh Fine, 5 Year Jail Term For Advertising Fairness Creams: Health Ministry's Bold Proposal
Promoters and actors endorsing and advertising fairness creams may soon find themselves in trouble. Soon, they will be asked to pay a penalty of Rs 50 lakh, and serve prison time upto 5 years.
The government has proposed to amend the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. According to the changes in the draft bill a penalty of Rs 50 lakh, and serve prison time upto 5 years have been suggested for enablers of advertisements of promoting pharmaceutical products for fairness of skin, deafness, improvement of height, hair loss or greying, obesity, among others.
These new rules would be drafted under Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Under the proposed draft bill, a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and up to two years' imprisonment has been proposed in the case of the first offence.
In the case of a subsequent conviction, imprisonment may extend to five years and the fine, up to Rs 50 lakh.
The notice issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, states that it is proposing the amendment "in order to keep pace with changing time and technology."
The current law states that the culprits in the first offence will be subjected to imprisonment up to six months, with or without a fine, and up to one year for a second-time conviction.
The present law recognizes 'magic remedy' in the form of a talisman, mantra, kavacha, and any other charm of any kind which is alleged to possess miraculous powers for or in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease in human beings or animals or for affecting or influencing in any way the structure or any organic function of the body of human beings or animals.
Proposal to expand the definition of an advertisement to "any audio or visual publicity, representation, endorsement or pronouncement made by means of light, sound, smoke, gas, print, electronic media, internet or website and includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper, invoice, banner, poster or such other documents: Provided that label or wrapper is an advertisement only if it contains any information or claim other than provided in the rules " has also been made.
In the draft bill, the ministry has proposed to prohibit advertisements of medicines and products purported to cure "any" of the 78 diseases, disorders or conditions it has specified.
The previous Act had 54 such diseases, disorders and conditions.
The ministry has decided to solicit suggestions, comments or objections from the public or stakeholders with regard to the said draft Bill.
Why is this a welcomed move by the Ministry?
Brands used to glorify the idea that only fair-skinned people became successful.
The carefully curated fairness advertisements would feed into the insecurities of people with a dark-complexion, luring them with a seemingly 'magical' resolution to all of their hurdles on the road to success.
Some brands like Patanjali tagged dark skin as a form of skin ailment, and this notion was used to market their creams.
Hopefully, the new rules will now change the narrative.