AHMEDABAD: The Bombay High Court recently came to the rescue of Ruchir Modi’s wellness startup, Puro Wellness which is recognized under the Centre’s Start-Up India initiative and has restrained the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) from banning any TV commercials of the firm from going on-air, according to a recent media reports.
For further hearing, the matter was adjourned to 4th June.
ET reports that the Bombay High court passed the order in a petition filed by the wellness firm challenging the orders passed by the ASCI after it disallowed them from telecasting TV ads related to one of its products PURO Salt.
Incidentally, the TV commercials featured Bollywood superstar Anil Kapoor, who is seen promoting the pink-coloured salt manufactured by Puro Wellness Private Limited.
It has been reported that Puro Wellness also had a legal tussle with Indian Salt Manufacturers Association (ISMA) in March this year. A civil suit had by the association in the City Civil Court Ahmedabad against the disparaging advertisement of Puro Wellness’s PURO Salt.
An ex-parte ad-interim injunction given by the Civil court was vacated by the Gujarat High court. Now, the legal proceeding is pending in Ahmedabad Civil court reports ET.
Giving its order Bombay High court said it was observed that “The Defendant (ASCI) is a private body and is not a statutory body or ‘State’… The decisions made and directions issued by the Defendant to its members in respect of the television commercials and claims of the Plaintiff (Puro Wellness) have the effect of adversely affecting and restricting the right of the Plaintiff to carry out its trade, business and occupation and to that extent the directions are against law without regard to the material on record and beyond the realm of the Defendant powers.”
The court also observed in its order that, “A similar conduct of the Defendant (ASCI) has been assailed by other entities in the past before various courts within India”.
According to the report, Puro Wellness is not a member of the ASCI, there is no legal relationship between them, thus ASCI cannot exercise its jurisdiction over Puro Wellness in any manner, whether directly or indirectly in the grab of regulating its own members and the members of the ASCI may be bound to follow the decisions of it.
As per court’s observation, the ASCI is in monopolistic position and since the decisions of the defendant (ASCI) have the effect of a mandatory injunction on the members of the defendant, any decisions taken by the CCC (decision body/panel) of the defendant against the television commercials or decision of the plaintiff is likely to have the effect of causing substantial prejudice, harm and damage to the marketing, promotion, publicity, advertisement and sale of the plaintiff products inspite of the fact that the plaintiff itself is not a member of the defendant. The defendant cannot in any manner obstruct the carrying on of the business by the plaintiff or the exercise of its right to commercial speech.
“I am of the view that the defendant (ASCI) ought to have stayed its hands in view of its own code of conduct and once the legal proceedings pending adjudication before the Ahmedabad City Civil court was brought to its notice” said the order copy.
ET reports that the court said it such circumstances it’s of the view that it is necessary to grant protection to Puro Wellness by way of an ad-interim order. The order was passed in absence of ASCI and the next hearing was schedule on 16th May. The high court further adjourned the matter to 4th June for further hearing.