Emami faces fine of Rs 15 lakh over fair­ness cream

Consumer Voice - - In The News -

A district consumer court in Delhi has pulled up Emami for its fair­ness-cream brand Fair and Hand­some. The court has slapped a fine of Rs 15 lakh on the brand and or­dered it to with­draw ad­ver­tise­ments promis­ing dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion in skin com­plex­ion.

Delhi-based Nikhil Jain had filed an un­fair trade prac­tices suit against the com­pany in the consumer court chal­leng­ing the brand’s ad­ver­tised claim that its Fair and Hand­some cream would lighten the skin tone of its consumer within four weeks. In 2012, Jain pur­chased the fair­ness cream to im­prove his skin tone. How­ever, af­ter us­ing it for sev­eral weeks he did not find any pos­i­tive change in his skin tone. Fi­nally, he de­cided to file a law suit with the help of his brother, Paras Jain, who was then a law stu­dent at Amity Law School. Paras Jain re­port­edly said: “While the cream didn’t dam­age my brother’s skin, it had a psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fect. The com­pany is play­ing with the emo­tions of so many peo­ple who want to look and feel bet­ter.”

Emami ar­gued in court that its prod­uct meant only to im­prove skin health and qual­ity by pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion and nour­ish­ment to the fa­cial and neck skin to which the cream was ap­plied. How­ever, in its 3 Novem­ber or­der, the court re­jected Emami’s ar­gu­ment be­cause it was con­trary to its ad­ver­tised claim of guar­an­teed fair­ness and there­fore con­sti­tuted ‘mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion’.

The court ob­served: “The tran­scrip­tion of the ad­ver­tise­ments as re­pro­duced above holds out that the ap­pli­ca­tion of the prod­uct will pro­duce a fair com­plex­ion. It uses the word ‘gora­pan’ in ad­ver­tise­ment, which means fair com­plex­ion. In an­other ad­ver­tise­ment, it gives out a prom­ise that the use of the prod­uct for a pe­riod of four weeks will en­sure fair com­plex­ion. The ad­ver­tise­ment, there­fore, makes a rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the gen­eral pub­lic that by the use of the prod­uct they can achieve fair com­plex­ion.” The award of Rs 15 lakh will go to Delhi’s State Consumer Com­mis­sion.

Emami was also banned from ad­ver­tis­ing its ‘Fair and Hand­some’ prod­uct by the district consumer fo­rum, which awarded Jain the puni­tive dam­ages and Rs 10,000 to cover the cost of the three-year lit­i­ga­tion.

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