• Endorsers of dubious ads answerable to law: Paswan

    Union minister for food and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said that once the new Consumer Protection Bill 2015 comes into force, celebrities will be held liable for any fault in the products they endorse.

    “Till now, celebrities were not being held accountable for the products they advertise. But, with the new Act, the celebrities along with the manufacturers, will be liable in case the products do not match the claims made in the advertisements,” Paswan said that after conducting a review meeting of consumer courts of 12 east and north-eastern states here on Thursday.

    Expressing concern over differential pricing of bottled drinking water, the Union minister said the MRP of bottled water should be the same everywhere, and not costlier at hotels and malls. “If a consumer is charged more, it amounts to fraud for which action would be taken,” he said.

    Unhappy with the state of affairs in consumer courts, Ram Vilas Paswan said, “Much improvement is required to make consumer courts robust. Uniformity in salary and perks of officials and better infrastructure will help improve functioning in these courts.” Paswan said the three-member committee, formed by the Supreme Court to suggest ways to improve functioning in consumer courts, would submit its report by the end of this month.

    Paswan hoped that the Consumer Protection Bill will be passed in the next session of Parliament. “Once the Bill is passed, the process of filing complaints in consumer courts will be simplified. Besides, a regulatory authority would be set up to protect and enforce the rights of consumers,” he said, adding that those using chemicals such as Oxytocin in vegetables or milk will be taken to task after the new Bill comes into effect. “Online shopping and e-commerce will also come under the ambit of the new laws,” the minister said.

    Asked about rising sugar prices, Paswan said, “The sugar industry was dying as the cost of producing sugar was much higher than the selling price. Now, the prices have almost equalled and we have given instructions to the state governments to impose stock limit on traders.”

    Paswan asked the state governments to list out their ‘dal’ requirements for the coming months. “We have created a buffer stock of pulses. While 25,000 tonne was imported, 50,000 tonne was bought by FCI. Now, the states need to tell us how much they require. We will not let pulse prices rise this year,” the minister said. Michael Jordan Jersey

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