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Business News/ Companies / News/  Patanjali ads case: SC asks Ramdev, Balkrishna to issue public apology
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Patanjali ads case: SC asks Ramdev, Balkrishna to issue public apology

The matter will be next heard on 23 April. Ramdev and Balkrishna have been ordered to appear in court.

Yoga guru Ramdev arrives at the Supreme Court for hearing on the Patanjali misleading advertisements case, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (PTI Photo)Premium
Yoga guru Ramdev arrives at the Supreme Court for hearing on the Patanjali misleading advertisements case, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (PTI Photo)

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted Patanjali Ayurved founders Baba Ramdev and managing director Acharya Balkrishna a week to tender a public apology in a case concerning misleading advertisements for health cures by the company.

The top court warned that it is not letting them "off the hook."

The matter is set to be heard next on 23 April. Ramdev and Balkrishna have been ordered to appear in court.

"We have not decided whether to forgive you or no…You are not so innocent that you did not know what's happening in court," the bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice A Amanullah said. 

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.

The court acknowledged Patanjali's right to promote its products but criticized its approach to other medical practices. "Do your job, don't ridicule anyone," the judges remarked.

During the hearing, Ramdev expressed remorse: "I am humbly apologizing to you. We will remember this in the future. It happened on an impulse; we won't do so in the future."  

Balkrishna said, "Whatever happened was not deliberate but happened out of innocence and unknowingness."

To this, the bench remarked, "This has been going on since November and December, and your last advertisement came in February."

In August 2022, the Indian Medical Association had filed a writ petition urging the central government, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), and the Central Consumer Protection Authority of India (CCPA) to address advertisements that promote the Ayush system at the expense of modern medicine, evidence-based medicine.

The plea had highlighted concerns about the systematic spread of misinformation disparaging modern medicine and argued that Patanjali's unverified claims were in violation of laws such as the Drugs & Other Magic Remedies Act, 1954, and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. 

It also cited controversial statements by Ramdev, including derogatory remarks about modern medicine and unfounded claims about COVID-19 vaccines and oxygen cylinders during the pandemic's second wave.

On 21 November 2023, the Supreme Court criticized Patanjali for circulating misleading claims and advertisements against modern medicine, warning that a fine of 1 crore could be imposed if such activities continued.

Despite the court's ruling, Patanjali issued a media statement the following day denying any misleading claims about its products.

Following this, on 27 February 2024, the court 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. Ramdev and Balkrishna were found prima facie in violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.

On 19 March, they were directed to personally appear before the court to respond to the contempt proceedings for continuing to issue misleading health cure advertisements.

In a hearing on 2 April, the court had slammed Ramdev and Balkrishna, dismissing an apology affidavit submitted in response to the contempt notice. The court also criticized the central and state authorities for their lack of action.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Krishna Yadav
Krishna, a lawyer turned journalist, is a key member of Mint's corporate team. He covers major legal battles in Delhi's courtrooms, with a focus on finance, markets, and policy. Additionally, he crafts easy-to-understand explainers for complex stories and holds a PG Diploma from the renowned Asian College of Journalism.
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Published: 16 Apr 2024, 12:01 PM IST
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