SC Grants Baba Ramdev A Week To Take Redeeming Steps In Patanjali Misleading Advertisement Case

SC Grants Baba Ramdev A Week To Take Redeeming Steps In Patanjali Misleading Advertisement Case

The top court's order came after Mukul Rohatgi, counsel for Ramdev and Balkrishna, said that the two of them were willing to issue a public apology to show contrition regarding the advertisements

Rahul MUpdated: Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 04:35 PM IST
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The Supreme Court today granted Patanjali Ayurved Ltd co-founder Baba Ramdev and Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna a week to take steps in connection with the misleading advertisements for their Ayurveda products. 

They informed the court about wanting to redeem themselves and demonstrate their bona fides in relation to the advertisements. 

Baba Ramdev, Balkrishna to issue public apology

The top court's order came after Mukul Rohatgi, counsel for Ramdev and Balkrishna, said that the two of them were willing to issue a public apology to show contrition regarding the advertisements. The court has listed the case for hearing on Apr 23. 

On Apr 10, a bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah had twice refused to accept the "unconditional" and "unqualified" apology from Ramdev and Balkrishna in a contempt case related to misleading advertisements. 

Today, the top court questioned Ramdev and Balkrishna, who were physically present in the case. Ramdev said that he has offered an unconditional and unqualified apology for whatever mistake Patanjali had made. 

Questioning Ramdev, the top court said, "Despite the order of the court, you published the advertisement and said those things. Ayurveda has been around since the time of Maharishi Charak. Why did you talk poorly about other medical system to promote your own method?" To its reply, Ramdev said that he did not have such intentions and Patanjali has researched more than 5,000 processes.  

You acted irresponsibly...we are talking about your attitude: SC

"We are talking about your attitude. We have summoned you because you have disobeyed our order," remarked the top court. 

Apologising for the same, Ramdev said he should not have made those statements and will take care of this in future. 

"Medicines that claim to treat incurable diseases are not publicized. No one can do this, no one has done it. You have acted completely irresponsibly by going to the press...Law is equal for everyone," said the top court. 

"We said what we did for allopathy out of enthusiasm. We will take care from now on," said Ramdev 

Turning to Bakrishna, the top court warned him that Patanjali cannot degrade other medical systems and point fingers at them. The apex court said that it was wrong of Patanjali to make statements against allopathy. Ramdev said that allopathy has been called pseudo-science and there is always a dispute between Ayurveda and allopathy.  

The bench said that if lawyers gave an undertaking to the court regarding misleading advertisements, then Ramdev and Balkrishna cannot say that they did not know something. "You cannot repeat that over and over again. You cannot say that you are innocent," said the bench. "We haven't forgiven you yet. We will think about it. Your history is similar. We have not forgiven you. We are keeping in mind your previous role. The last order is in our attention. You are not so innocent that you do not know what is going on in the court," the top court said.  

The background:

In February, the apex court had come down sharply on Patanjali for its misleading advertisements on the medicinal efficacy of its products. It had barred the company from advertising or branding its products that claimed to treat ailments specified in the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. The court had also cautioned Patanjali Ayurved, the parent company of Patanjali Foods Ltd, from making statements against any system of medicine in any media, in any form, as undertaken by the company earlier.  

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association, which raised concern over continuous, systematic, and unabated spread of misinformation regarding allopathic and modern medicines. The petition also sought action against Ramdev for misleading advertisements.

On Nov 21, the top court had reprimanded Patanjali and asked the company to halt false, misleading claims and advertisements against the modern system of medicine. "All such false and misleading advertisements of Patanjali Ayurved have to stop immediately. The court will take any such infraction very seriously, and the court will also consider imposing costs to the extent of Rs. 1 crores on every product regarding which a false claim is made that it can cure a particular disease," the court had said.

However, the very next day, Ramdev and Balkrishna had held a press conference and made misleading claims, the lawyer for the opposite side had argued. The bench was also upset about an advertisement issued by Patanjali on Dec 4, allegedly violating their undertaking given to the court. The press conference and advertisement had claimed Patanjali had permanent cures for diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, and glaucoma, among other diseases.

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