It took 5 years to fine Jackie Shroff and Govinda for endorsing product with fake promises -- during which infomercials in India doubled

  • The Indian government is cracking on fake infomercials — and the fight begins with Govinda and Jackie Shroff.
  • A consumer court in Muzaffarnagar imposed a fine of ₹20,000 each on Bollywood actors Govinda and Jackie Shroff for advertising a fake pain relief oil, which was not named.
  • Abhinav Agarwal, a lawyer from Muzaffarnagar, moved to consumer court in July 2012 to file a case against Govinda and Jackie Shroff for promoting a fake pain relief oil.
For decades, Indian infomercials have been claiming to solve problems that no doctor nor a wizard can dream of — like curing baldness, turning dark complexioned people fair, increasing height and even enlarge penises.

Very rarely that these ludicrous claims ever face a backlash. But recently, a consumer court in Muzaffarnagar decided to crack the whip on the celebrities who endorse such products. It imposed a fine of ₹20,000 each on Bollywood actors Govinda and Jackie Shroff for advertising a fake pain relief oil, which was not named.

Abhinav Agarwal, a lawyer from Muzaffarnagar, moved to consumer court in July 2012 to file a case against Govinda and Jackie Shroff for promoting a fake pain relief oil.

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The lawsuit said that the oil did not provide any relief in 15 days as claimed. Abhinav ordered the oil for his father for ₹3,600 after he saw both these actors’ in an advertisement in a newspaper. In the ad, the company claimed to give a full refund within 15 days if the oil wasn’t effective.

Five years after filing the case, the consumer court has imposed a fine of ₹20,000 each on five stakeholders including the company, Govinda, Jackie Shroff, Telemart Shopping Network and Max Communications. The company will also have to return ₹3600 (with 9% interest per annum) and all the other legal expenses incurred by Abhinav.

Abhinav’s case is one of the many cases as thousands of people in India fall victim to fake infomercials and miracle cures every day. It is common for faded Bollywood actors to make money working for infomercials and lend credit to otherwise unnoticeable products from unheard-of companies. The number of networks that air infomercials have ballooned in the last ten years, and while most of them air them late in the night, now a few networks have channels dedicated to them.

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Maharashtra state FDA is one of the few who has taken note of health problems arising due miracle cures. It has warned television networks to exercise restraint. It also arrested Munir Khan, a man who claimed to cure everything from AIDS to tumours and has been advertising on television channels and also has a website.

In 2017, the state Food and Drug Administration and some doctors wrote to Central Drug Control Authority to make fairness creams prescription-based. This came after there was a rise in the number of people reporting skin problems after using steroid-based fairness creams.
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