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Supreme Court Rebukes Patanjali and Ramdev in Contempt Case Over Misleading Medical Advertisements

Supreme Court Issues Strong Warning to Patanjali and Ramdev Over Contempt of Court in Misleading Advertisements Case.

New Delhi , 2 April, 2024: In a stern rebuke against Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, its Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna, and co-founder Baba Ramdev, the Supreme Court came down heavily on Tuesday (April 2) while hearing a contempt case against them over the publication of misleading medical advertisements in breach of an undertaking given to the Court. Both Balkrishna and Ramdev were personally present before the Court following a directive issued on March 19.

The case stems from a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association against Patanjali’s advertisements, which attacked allopathy and made claims about curing certain diseases. The Division Bench, comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, had previously issued a Contempt notice on February 27 to Patanjali Ayurved and its MD, noting the company’s continued dissemination of misleading advertisements despite assurances given to the Court.

During the hearing, the Court expressed dissatisfaction with Balkrishna and Ramdev’s responses. Justice Kohli questioned the affidavit filed by Balkrishna, highlighting that the media department’s alleged ignorance of the Court’s order was unacceptable. She emphasized that once undertakings are given to the court, it is the duty of the company to ensure compliance throughout its hierarchy.

Justice Kohli dismissed the apologies presented by the defendants as “perfunctory” and emphasized the gravity of violating undertakings made to the highest court of the land. Similarly, the Court rejected arguments challenging the validity of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954, noting that the Act must be adhered to regardless of advancements in science.

Regarding Baba Ramdev, the Court warned of potential perjury charges, noting discrepancies between his actions and the Court’s orders. Justice Kohli highlighted Ramdev’s awareness of the Court’s directives, including holding a press conference within 24 hours of a previous order.

Additionally, the Court questioned why the Union Government had not taken action against Patanjali for false claims regarding COVID cures, indicating broader concerns regarding misleading advertisements in the healthcare sector.

This latest development underscores the judiciary’s commitment to upholding legal standards in advertising and addressing public health concerns. The Court’s firm stance signals a strong message to corporations and public figures regarding accountability and compliance with legal obligations. The case is scheduled for further hearings on April 10, with both parties required to be present.

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