New Advisory Limits Self-Declaration Requirement to Food, Health Ads

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has revised its advisory on self-declaration certificates for advertisements, restricting its applicability solely to products and services related to the food and health sectors.

The new advisory dated July 3, 2024, issued in compliance with the order of the Supreme Court in Indian Medical Association & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. [WP(C) No. 645/2022], requires advertisers and advertising agencies issuing such advertisements to upload an annual self-declaration certificate on the Broadcast Seva Portal for TV or radio advertisements and on the Press Council of India (PCI) portal for print or internet advertisements. Proof of submission must also be provided to the concerned media stakeholders. In limiting the scope of the requirement, the advisory extracts a portion of the order which specifies that the Court sought to invoke its powers towards enforcement of the “fundamental right to health” which was said to encompass the right of consumers to be made aware of the quality of products being offered for sale.

This advisory supersedes earlier versions dated June 3, 2024[1], and June 5, 2024[2], which were broader in scope. The June 3 advisory mandated a self-declaration confirming adherence to regulatory guidelines and absence of misleading claims in advertisements. Subsequently, on June 5, the Ministry extended these requirements to radio broadcasts, with exceptions for certain types of ads such as classifieds, personal advertisements, statutory advertisements, public information notices, tenders, and advertisements related to public functions. However, self-declaration was required for classifieds directly related to consumer products. Further guidelines for uploading the self-declaration certificate outline the details of the advertisement to be filled, the list of requisite documents, mandatory and optional fields, and so on.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter tomorrow, during which the new developments will be assessed.