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Central Consumer Protection Authority slaps Rs 5 lakh fine on Khan Study Group Institute for advertising misleading claims
Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

Central Consumer Protection Authority slaps Rs 5 lakh fine on Khan Study Group Institute for advertising misleading claims

| @indiablooms | 10 Nov 2023, 12:22 am

New Delhi: The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has imposed a penalty of Rs 5 lakh for misleading advertisement and unfair trade practice on Khan Study Group (KSG), the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said on Thursday.

The decision was taken to safeguard consumer rights across the country, it added.

The Chief Commissioner Nidhi Khare, and Commissioner Anupam Mishra of the CCPA have issued an Order against KSG in response as it was found that Khan Study Group (KSG) violated Consumer Protection Act, 2019 through misleading advertisements and unfair trade practices, it said.

This action comes in light of a common practice among IAS coaching institutes to claim successful UPSC candidates as their own, using their names and pictures in advertisements.

However, these institutes often fail to disclose important information such as the courses taken by the candidates, the fees paid, and the duration of the course. The CCPA, having recognized this issue, took proactive measures by issuing Notices to various IAS coaching institutes, including Khan Study Group.

Khan Study Group in its advertisement made the following claims-

682 out of 933 selected students are from KSG.

All TOP 5 Successful Candidates of UPSC Civil Services Exam 2022 are from KSG.

Ishita Kishore AIR 1 UPSC 2022 is from KSG

Best IAS Coaching Institute for General Studies and CSAT in India.

In the preliminary inquiry, the CCPA discovered that Khan Study Group (KSG) had advertised different types of courses, but failed to disclose which course the successful candidates in the UPSC exam 2022 had actually opted for. Consequently, a notice was sent to Khan Study Group on August 3, 2023.

In response, the institute stated that out of the 682 successful candidates featured in the contested advertisement, 674 had participated in the Mock Interview Program, which is a free-of-cost program.

CCPA is entrusted to protect, promote, and enforce the rights of a class of consumers and therefore DG (Investigation) CCPA was requested for detailed investigation in the matter. It was found in the investigation report that out of 682, only 8 successful candidates took guidance for additional courses that too in previous years. This fact was not disclosed in their advertisements, thereby deceiving consumers into believing that such successful candidates owe their success to said institution.

CCPA found out that All 5 toppers of UPSC CS exam 2022 namely Ishita Kishore (AIR-1), Garima Lohia (AIR- 2), Uma Harathi N (AIR- 3), Smriti Mishra (AIR- 4) and Mayur Hazarika (AIR- 5) only took Mock Interview from Khan Study Group which was free of cost.

Khan Study Group has been found taking full credit of successful candidate’s efforts and success by prominently putting their pictures in the advertisement. It is common knowledge that the rank of a successful candidate is based on the score in the written test as well as the interview. Thus, UPSC aspirants may get lured by the misleading advertisements.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) reported that 11,35,697 candidates applied for the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2022. Out of these, 13,090 candidates qualified for the Main Examination and 2,529 candidates qualified for the Personality Test. Ultimately, 933 candidates were recommended for appointment to various services.

It's important to note that out of the 2,529 candidates selected for the Personality Test, statistics suggest that one out of every three candidates may ultimately be selected for the final round.

Success in the Civil Services Examination requires passing all three stages: Prelims, Main Exams, and the Personality Test. While Prelims is a screening test, both Main Exams and the Personality Test contribute to the final selection. The total marks for Main Exams and the PT are 1750 and 275, respectively. The Personality Test accounts for 13.5% of the total marks.

Candidates clear Preliminary and Main Examinations on their own, without assistance from Khan Study Group. By not disclosing this crucial information, misleading advertisements like the one from Khan Study Group can significantly impact UPSC aspirants. These aspirants have a right to be informed and protected against unfair trade practices.

An advertisement is considered to be valid and not deceitful when it does not mislead consumers by exaggerating the usefulness of the products or services. An advertisement should be truthful & honest representation of facts by making disclosures in such a manner that they are clear, prominent and extremely hard to miss for viewers to notice.

In 2022, CCPA had issued Guidelines for prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, wherein conditions for non-misleading and valid advertisement have been clearly mentioned.

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