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Supreme Court Bans Patanjali’s Misleading Advertisements, Issues Contempt Notices to Ramdev and Balkrishna

Supreme Court Cracks Down on Patanjali's Misleading Claims, Issues Contempt Notices to Founders: A Landmark Decision in Healthcare Advertising Regulation.

In a landmark move, the Supreme Court has cracked down on Patanjali Ayurved, the popular Indian multinational company, for its misleading advertisements claiming to treat various diseases. The Court, invoking the Drugs and Magical Remedies Act, 1954, has imposed a ban on all such advertisements, highlighting concerns about the lack of empirical evidence to support the claims made by Patanjali.

A bench comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah issued contempt notices against the founders of Patanjali, Baba Ramdev, and Acharya Balkrishna. This action comes in response to the flouting of previous court orders and persistent dissemination of misleading information regarding the efficacy of Patanjali’s products in curing diseases.

The Court’s decision underscores the gravity of the issue, particularly in light of Patanjali’s significant influence and reach across the country. It has directed the central government to respond regarding the actions it intends to take against Patanjali and its founders. Under the prevailing law, if found guilty, the provision includes imprisonment ranging from six months to a maximum of one year.

The case stems from a plea filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which raised concerns about a smear campaign orchestrated by Ramdev and Patanjali against the COVID-19 vaccination drive and modern medicine. The Court took a stern stance against such misleading advertisements, emphasizing the need for accountability and adherence to regulatory frameworks.

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Furthermore, the Court cautioned Patanjali against making derogatory statements about other forms of medicine and ordered the company to refrain from publishing false advertisements in the future. The bench expressed disappointment with the Ministry of AYUSH for its apparent inaction in addressing the issue promptly.

During the hearing, the Court scrutinized the advertisements closely, pointing out the lack of substantiated claims and the potential harm caused by spreading misinformation. Despite previous warnings from the Court, Patanjali persisted in making claims about curing diseases without adequate evidence.

In response, the Court rebuked Patanjali’s counsel, emphasizing the seriousness of the matter and the need for immediate corrective action. The bench highlighted Patanjali’s responsibility as a prominent entity in the healthcare sector and stressed the importance of prioritizing public welfare over commercial interests.

The Court’s interim order signifies a significant step towards curbing misleading advertisements and ensuring consumer protection in the pharmaceutical industry. It serves as a reminder to companies like Patanjali to uphold ethical standards and refrain from making unsubstantiated claims that could potentially endanger public health.

The case is expected to prompt broader discussions on the regulation of advertisements in the healthcare sector and the responsibilities of corporations towards society. As the legal proceedings unfold, all eyes will be on the Modi government’s response and the actions taken to enforce accountability in this matter.

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