Patanjali Misleading Ads Case: SC Questions 'Is Apology The Same Size Of Published Ads In Newspapers?'

Patanjali Misleading Ads Case: SC Questions 'Is Apology The Same Size Of Published Ads In Newspapers?'

The Supreme Court starts the hearing for Patanjali Ayurved's misleading advertisement probe, demands reasoning for an apology printed in the newspaper before the hearings. The Supreme Court directs Central Ministries to file affidavits regarding actions taken by them on misleading advertisements for three years.

Manasi KambleUpdated: Tuesday, April 23, 2024, 02:12 PM IST
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Baba Ramdev appearing for the SC hearing. |

New Delhi: Patanjali Ayurved publicly apologised in a newspaper for its recent actions and expressed regret for the promotion of manipulative ads. The Supreme Court, however, maintained its firm decision stance against the brand and sought reasoning from the company over its apology printed in the newspaper a day prior to the hearing. The Supreme Court had granted one more week for remedial action and highlighted the need for honesty in advertisements before Tuesday's hearing.

Court Proceedings Take Place

The apex court called both yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna to appear before it on April 23 and has highlighted their prior infractions. The court's ruling, which questioned the Centre over its inaction, was in response to Patanjali's repeated transgressions and Ramdev's earlier rejected apologies. Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi represented Ramdev in the case.

SC Questions The IMA

Calling out the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Supreme Court stated that "four fingers point at you (the IMA)" when pointing one at Patanjali Ayurved. "Your (IMA) doctors are also endorsing medicines in the allopathic field. If that's happening, why should we not turn the beam at you (IMA)?" the court said.

The Supreme Court also said that FMCGs were publishing misleading ads that take the public for a ride, in particular affecting the health of babies, school-going children, and senior citizens who have been consuming their products. The Supreme Court has extended the legal case against the misleading ads by asking all the states and union territories to include licenced authorities to be prosecuted as 'parties' in the ongoing legal case. Furthermore, the court has demanded that central government ministries explain their actions against such ads in the past three years through affidavits.

The Supreme Court also maintained that the "IMA also needed to put its house in order regarding alleged unethical acts of the IMA where medicines are prescribed, which are expensive and unnecessary. There are several complaints with regard to the alleged unethical conduct of IMA."

Summary of the circumstances

Medical Claim Fraud

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) filed a suit against Patanjali in August 2022 due to advertisements suggesting that its products may cure severe medical diseases such as liver cirrhosis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These assertions can deter customers from obtaining appropriate medical care, in addition to misleading them.

Criticising Contemporary Medicine

Patanjali advertisements went a step farther and presented allopathy, or contemporary medicine, in a negative light. Among these were assertions that allopathy was a "bankrupt science" and that it was ineffective in treating COVID-19. In addition to causing needless confusion, this may have endangered individuals by downplaying the significance of vaccinations and accepted medical procedures.

Supreme Court Proceedings

The Supreme Court vehemently objected to Patanjali's deceptive marketing. They issued a warning about severe penalties for similar actions in November 2023. Even after apologising at first, Patanjali still running misleading advertisements. As a result, in February 2024, the court ordered a temporary injunction against the company's marketing and served notices of contempt to both Baba Ramdev, the founder, and the company.

The Supreme Court posts a contempt case against Patanjali Ayurveda, Baba Ramdev, and Acharya Balkrishna for hearing on April 30.

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