New Delhi: Yoga guru-turned-businessman Baba Ramdev on Saturday said his firm Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd will sue the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body for the advertising industry in India, for defamation.
“In the last few weeks we have received 27 notices from ASCI. The issue has also been flagged off in the Parliament session recently. ASCI is an unconstitutional body. The Bombay high court had, in an order last year, flayed ASCI for its highhandedness despite not being a regulator. The ASCI’s actions are nothing but a collective conspiracy by some multinational companies, who has a great deal of influence on ASCI," Ramdev said.
Last year, justice G.S. Patel of the Bombay High Court in his verdict on a plea filed by Teleshop Teleshopping, noted that ASCI wasn’t a statutory body or government regulator, and it did not have powers to restrict any commercial advertisements of the petitioner.
When Patanjali contacted ASCI regarding the notices, Ramdev said that the association requested “Patanjali to become a member of ASCI", majority of whose members are multinationals. “Why would Patanjali be a member?" questioned the yoga guru.
On 1 August, the Department of Consumer Affairs told Lok Sabha that the ministry had received 33 complaints against advertisements of Patanjali between April 2015 and July 2016. In a written response, Rajyavardhan Rathore, minister of state for information and broadcasting, said that the Department of Consumer Affairs has informed that 17 out of 21 advertisements, which had complaints against them, were considered to have violated ASCI code for self regulation of advertising content as per the findings of Consumer Complaints Council (CCC).
“What was the ASCI doing when MNCs (multinational companies) advertised fairness creams claiming that the cream can make people look fair in just seven days?" Ramdev asked. Interestingly, Patanjali also sells a fairness cream under Swarna Kanti brand.
ASCI secretary general Shweta Purandare declined comment on Ramdev’s statement.
On Saturday, Ramdev called a press conference to announce his “Arthik Azadi Ka Abhiyan" (financial freedom movement) against “vicious yoke of economic loot by foreign MNCs" by riding on his “swadeshi mantra".
“Patanjali apnaiye, desh ko arthic aazadi dilaiye (Choose Patanjali, give the country financial freedom)," said Ramdev, adding that Patanjali has never done anything wrong and would never indulge into such a thing.
Ramdev has already tied up with four major FM radio networks for a 15-day campaign to promote Patanjali through jingles, interviews and interactive sessions every day with the punch line “Patanjali apnaiye, desh ko arthic aazadi dilaiye".
“If speaking the truth is a crime, we’ll keep on doing that. We should stand up against the MNCs. Most of these brands are baseless and faceless," Ramdev said, adding that Patanjali has lined up an investment of Rs500 crore for research and to set up scientific facilities to save cows in India.
“We’ll save cows to save our country," he added.
Ramdev also said Patanjali is also in process of setting up four new production units in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Assam, three of which will be operational this fiscal year.
The yoga guru added that Patanjali Ayurved’s toothpaste Dant Kanti has received accreditation by the Dentists Association of India (DAI). In a press statement, DAI said it has found Dant Kanti “most effective in antimicrobial action, reduction of dental plaque and on gingival inflammation signs and symptoms", based on a “comparative study conducted on popular brands like Colgate Total, Pepsodent G, Dant Kanti and Dabur Meswak."
Ramdev, however, left the press conference midway, unfinished, after questions were raised on the capacity of the DAI to issue an accreditation.
DAI officials refused to comment on the matter.
Ramdev had, in an interview to Mint in June, said Patanjali will cross the Rs1 trillion-mark in net sales, a target he thinks can be reached in 10 years, if not five.
Founded in 2006, Patanjali had a revenue of Rs5,000 crore in the year ended 31 March 2016, up from Rs2,006 crore in the previous year.