Emami faces fine of Rs 15 lakh over fairness cream
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.