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Country taken for a ride: SC on 'misleading' Patanjali advertisements

The court pulled up the Centre's counsel for not tackling the misleading advertisements and waiting for two years to act when the Drugs Act says this is prohibited.
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 10:16 IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the Centre for its inaction against Patanjali's "misleading and false" advertisements claiming cure for various diseases and restrained the company run by Baba Ramdev from making such announcements for now.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said the entire country is being taken for a ride while issuing a show cause contempt notice to the company and its MD Acharya Balkrishna.

Justice Amanullah told the company's counsel, “I have brought printouts and annexures. We are going to pass a very strict order today. Go through it. How can you say you will cure? Despite our warning you are saying our things are better than chemical-based medicines?”

"You had the courage and guts to still come up with this advertisement after our order, you are tempting the court," he further told the counsel.

The court pulled up the Centre's counsel for not tackling the misleading advertisements and waiting for two years to act when the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act prohibited this.

The bench expressed discontent over the Centre for not taking action against Patanjali. 

As Additional solicitor general K M Nataraj, representing the Centre, said the state should act in connection with the Patanjali advertisements, the bench orally remarked that the government is sitting with its eyes closed.

“Here it is something that we cannot fathom. You (Centre) remain confined to your space but not so brazenly,” the bench told the Centre's counsel.

The court issued show cause notice for contempt to Patanjali Ayurveda and its MD Acharya Balkrishna for continuing to issue allegedly misleading advertisements. The court also restrained the company from issuing all advertisements relating to BP, diabetes, asthma and some other diseases.

The bench said the court will make two persons, Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, whose photographs are there in the advertisement, party in the contempt proceedings. 

Senior advocate Vipin Sanghi, appearing for Patanjali, said so far, Baba Ramdev is concerned, he is a sanyasi

The bench said the court is not bothered by that and they were aware of the order and prima facie they are flouting the court order. 

The apex court was hearing a plea by Indian Medical Association seeking action against Baba Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved for defaming allopathy medicine.

During the hearing, the bench told the Patanjali counsel that the company had the courage to come up with these advertisements after the court's order in November 2023.

The apex court fixed the matter for further hearing on March 19.

In November, the apex court had cautioned Patanjali Ayurved against making "false" and "misleading" claims in advertisements about its medicines as a cure of several diseases.

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(Published 27 February 2024, 10:16 IST)

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