Sunday, May 19

CCPA Levies Rs 1 Lakh Fine on IQRA IAS Institute for False Claims and Misleading Testimonials from IAS Top Rank Holders

CCPA Levies Rs 1 Lakh Fine on IQRA IAS Institute for False Claims and Misleading Testimonials from IAS Top Rank Holders


Under the leadership of Chief Commissioner Nidhi Khare and Commissioner Anupam Mishra, the CCPA (Central Consumer Protection Authority) recently issued a significant order against IQRA IAS Institute. This order comes as a response to the institute’s misleading advertising practices. The CCPA’s action underscores its commitment to upholding consumer rights and ensuring that educational institutions maintain transparency and accuracy in their promotional efforts. In this case, IQRA IAS Institute faced consequences in the form of penalties for their deceptive marketing, serving as a reminder to all organizations to adhere to truthful advertising standards.

 

CCPA (Central Consumer Protection Authority)
CCPA (Central Consumer Protection Authority)

 

Upon investigation, the authority discovered that the institute had intentionally and falsely attributed testimonials from top-ranking UPSC CSE (Civil Services Examination) candidates from 2015 and 2017 to their institution, a practice that was factually deceptive. This revelation underscores the gravity of the institute’s misleading actions, as they sought to bolster their reputation through inaccurate representations of their association with successful candidates. Such deceptive practices not only misinform potential students but also compromise the integrity of educational institutions and the trust of consumers seeking quality education.

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has taken a decisive step by imposing a Rs 1 lakh fine on IQRA IAS Institute due to their misleading advertisement practices, particularly in relation to testimonials from top rank holders in the UPSC civil service exam. The CCPA, under the leadership of Chief Commissioner Nidhi Khare and Commissioner Anupam Mishra, issued a formal order in response to the institute’s misleading advertising and unfair trade practices.

The official statement clarified that the issue came to the CCPA’s attention through IQRA IAS Institute’s website, where it was found that the institute deliberately and falsely claimed these top rank holders from the 2015 and 2017 UPSC Civil Services Exams as their own students, a clear case of factual deception.

Remarkably, the institute, established in 2018, not only made these false claims but also asserted itself as the exclusive coaching academy offering the best faculty from across India, with the claim of providing the best UPSC online prelims test series in 2020. This positioning aimed to establish it as the top UPSC coaching center in Pune within a year of its establishment.

Upon discovering these deceptive practices, the CCPA took suo-moto cognizance, initiated an investigation, and subsequently ordered the institute to pay the fine. Additionally, the authority directed IQRA IAS Institute to promptly remove the false claims from its website, emphasizing the importance of transparency and accuracy in advertising within the educational sector.

The CCPA is dedicated to safeguarding the rights of consumers across the country, regardless of their location. In pursuit of this mission, the authority has issued an order to IQRA IAS Institute, compelling them to cease their misleading claims disguised as testimonials and has imposed a fine of Rs 1,00,000 for their misleading advertising and unfair trade practices, according to an official statement.

In response to these concerns, the CCPA initiated communication with IQRA IAS Institute by issuing a formal notice. As an entity entrusted with the responsibility to protect, promote, and enforce consumer rights, the CCPA subsequently commissioned a detailed investigation into the matter through DG (Investigation) CCPA.

The investigation revealed that IQRA IAS Institute had prominently featured testimonials from prominent All India Rank holders, including Tina Dabi AIR-1 (2015), Athar Amir Ul Safi Khan AIR-2 (2015), Himanshu Kaushik AIR-77 (2015), and Saifin AIR-570 (2017). Remarkably, IQRA IAS Institute itself was established only in 2018, creating a deceptive impression that these successful candidates attributed their achievements to the institution.

The statement emphasized that IQRA IAS Institute’s exaggerated claims not only misrepresented their services but also conveyed express and implied representations to mislead consumers, thereby deceptively promoting their offerings. Notably, the institute failed to provide any disclaimers and lacked substantial evidence to support their claims.

The CCPA underlined that an advertisement is considered valid and not deceptive when it does not mislead consumers through exaggerated claims about product or service usefulness. Furthermore, the disclosure in advertisements should not obscure material information and should be readily noticeable, as the omission of such information is likely to render the advertisement deceptive or conceal its commercial intent.

The department has taken proactive steps to address such issues, including the issuance of the “Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022,” as well as the notification of a framework on Online Consumer Reviews in November 2022. These measures aim to combat fake, deceptive, and misleading reviews and uphold consumer interests.


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