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Consumer court awards Rs 15 lakh to Emami's Fair and Handsome user for 'psychological' harm

Amity Law School student Paras Jain recovered Rs 15 lakh in damages from India’s first and biggest fairness cream brand Emami, for causing psychological hardship to his brother Nikhil Jain, through its allegedly false claims of fairness, reported The Telegraph.

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

The award of Rs 15 lakh will go to the coffers of Delhi’s _state consumer commission._Jain had filed an unfair trade practices suit against Emami in the consumer court after, contrary to its advertised claim that its cream Fair and Handsome will lighten the skin tone of its consumer within four weeks, there was no change in Jain’s skin tone.

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 it is applied. However in its 3 November order the court rejected Emami’s argument because it was contrary to its advertised claim of guaranteed fairness, which therefore constituted “misrepresentation”.

Paras Jain reportedly commented: “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.”

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) had, even before this court order, prohibited fairness cream ads from showing darker-complexioned people as unhappy or disadvantaged or belonging to any particular socio-economic class, ethnicity or community.

Telegraph added that skin tone can be quantitatively measured using a spectrophotometer and colorimeter and skin specialists claim that constitutive skin colour is determined by cells called melanocytes which are not responsive to any cream. Melanocytes sometimes over-produce a pigment called Melanin, to protect the body from the harmful effects of sun-exposure and this causes skin to “tan”. This can be reduced by external creams.

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