Supreme Court slams Ramdev for Patanjali’s misleading ads on health cures, rejects apology

The court has deferred the matter to 10 April, instructing both Ramdev and Balkrishna to be present at the next hearing.

Krishna Yadav
Updated2 Apr 2024, 02:06 PM IST
Yoga guru Ramdev after appearing before the Supreme Court in connection with the Patanjali misleading advertisements case, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Photo: PTI Photo)
Yoga guru Ramdev after appearing before the Supreme Court in connection with the Patanjali misleading advertisements case, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Photo: PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up Patanjali Ayurved founder Baba Ramdev, dismissing an apology affidavit submitted in response to a contempt notice issued to the company regarding misleading advertisements for health cures.

The bench, comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, also criticized Patanjali's managing director Acharya Balkrishna.

"If this is indefensible, then your apology will not work. This is a gross violation of the undertaking given to the top court. You have to ensure that your undertaking which is solemn should have been adhered to…We are not willing to accept this and this is perfunctory! What is the reason to accept your apology?" Justice Kohli remarked.

The top court was hearing a lawsuit filed by the Indian Medical Association, which had urged action against Patanjali for advertisements that promoted the Ayush treatment system while undermining modern, evidence-based medicine.

"We are not here to instruct them. Given the respect they command, they cannot be equated with ordinary citizens. They claim to have conducted extensive research. It is precisely because of this claim that we are treating this matter with utmost seriousness," the bench said.

The court has deferred the matter to 10 April, instructing both Ramdev and Balkrishna to be present at the next hearing.

The Supreme Court also wondered why the central government took no action while Patanjali publicly dismissed the efficacy of modern medicine for Covid.

The apex court has directed the Drugs and Licence Department to become party in the case.

In a judgment dated 21 November 2023, the Supreme Court had criticized Patanjali Ayurved for circulating misleading claims and advertisements against modern medicine, cautioning that a fine of 1 crore would be imposed if such promotional activities persisted.

However, a day after the court’s order, Patanjali had issued a media statement denying any misleading claims about its products.

Following this, on 27 February 2024, the court had issued a contempt notice to Ramdev and Balkrishna for persisting in distributing misleading health cure advertisements, barring Patanjali from promoting products with unsubstantiated claims of curing diseases like heart conditions and asthma. 

It also prohibited Patanjali and its officials from disparaging any medical system in any form of media. The top court found Ramdev and Balkrishna prima facie in violation of Sections 3 and 4 of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.

On 19 March, Ramdev and Balkrishna were further directed to personally appear before the court and respond to contempt proceedings initiated against them for issuing misleading advertisements for health cures.

The Indian Medical Association had filed a writ petition in 2022, urging the central government, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), and the Central Consumer Protection Authority of India (CCPA) to act against advertisements that promote the Ayush system while denigrating modern, evidence-based medicine.

The petition had raised concerns about the systematic spread of misinformation disparaging modern medicine.

It had argued that Patanjali's unverified claims violate existing laws such as the Drugs & Other Magic Remedies Act, 1954, and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. The petition had also pointed to controversial statements made by Ramdev, including derogatory remarks about modern medicine and unfounded claims about covid-19 vaccines and oxygen cylinders during the second wave of the pandemic.

 

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First Published:2 Apr 2024, 02:06 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaSupreme Court slams Ramdev for Patanjali’s misleading ads on health cures, rejects apology

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