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Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) Takes Decisive Action Against Misleading Advertisements in Coaching Sector

CCPA Takes Decisive Action Against Misleading Advertisements in Coaching Sector

New Delhi: The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) convened its first committee meeting on January 8, 2024, to address the pressing issue of misleading advertisements in the coaching sector. The committee, chaired by Shri Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs and Chief Commissioner of CCPA, discussed the draft guidelines aimed at curbing deceptive practices in coaching advertisements.

During the meeting, committee members, including the Commissioner (CCPA) and representatives from the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), Ministry of Education, National Law University (NLU), Delhi, FIITJEE, Khan Global Studies, Ikigai Law, and Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), actively participated in shaping the guidelines.

Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh underscored CCPA’s commitment to safeguarding consumer interests and the paramount importance of clarity in addressing misleading advertisements in the coaching sector. Emphasizing CCPA’s dedication to consumer rights, Singh asserted that false or misleading advertisements contravening the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, would not be tolerated.

The forthcoming guidelines will be applicable to all coaching institutes, irrespective of their online or physical presence, and will cover advertisements in various forms, formats, and mediums. They aim to define when an advertisement by a coaching institute is considered misleading, including scenarios where crucial information about the courses and successful candidates is concealed.

The guidelines also prohibit coaching institutes from making false claims about success rates, the number of selections, or engaging in any practices that could mislead or undermine consumer autonomy and choice.

Some key provisions highlighted in the guidelines include:

Dos and Don’ts for Advertisements:

  1. Coaching institutes must include requisite information with successful candidate photos, such as rank, course opted, duration, and whether it is paid or free.
  2. Claims of 100% selection or job guarantees are prohibited.
  3. The font of disclaimer/disclosure/important information in the advertisement must match that used in the claim, and its placement should be prominent and visible.

The committee stressed that penalties for misleading advertisements in the coaching sector would be governed by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. The guidelines serve as clarifications to stakeholders, and violations will be addressed under the existing provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Recognizing the urgency, the committee expressed the need to issue the guidelines promptly. CCPA had previously initiated suo moto action against misleading advertisements by issuing notices to 31 coaching institutes, and it imposed fines on nine for violating advertising norms. CCPA remains vigilant against deceptive practices that mislead consumers by concealing vital information and making unverified claims.

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