SC issues contempt notice to Patanjali for ‘misleading advertisements’

New Delhi, Feb 27 (UNI) The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a contempt notice to Baba Ramdev’s company Patanjali Ayurved and its Managing Director Acharya Balakrishna as to why action should not be taken against them for continuing to publish misleading advertisements regarding medicinal cures, despite making an assurance to the Court earlier in November last year that no such statements would be made.

The Court pulled up the company for continuing to flout court orders and it also criticized the Central government for not tackling misleading advertisements despite the writ having been filed in 2022.

The Apex Court also restrained Patanjali Ayurved from advertising or branding its products which are meant to address the diseases/disorders specified in the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954.

In the meantime, the Top Court also cautioned Patanjali Ayurved from making any statement adverse to any system of medicine. The matter will be taken after two weeks.

The Bench comprising Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah while hearing a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association seeking to control the “smear campaign” and negative advertisements against the vaccination drive and modern medicine, said that Patanjali has been taking the country for a ride by making misleading claims that its medicines would cure certain diseases despite no empirical evidence for the same.

The Bench restrained Patanjali from advertising or marketing any of their medicinal products which they claim would treat ailments specified in Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act.

In August 2022, the Apex court had restrained Ramdev from publishing false advertisements and discrediting allopathy and its practicing doctors during the coronavirus pandemic.

The IMA has initiated multiple criminal proceedings against the Patanjali ambassador.

The Court also asked the Union Government what action has been taken from its end under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954 in respect of the advertisements of Patanjali. “The entire country is taken for a ride! You wait for two years when the Act says this (misleading advertisements) is prohibited,” Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah said and told Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj. That misleading advertisement will not be accepted.

The top court in its previous order had directed Patanjali Ayurved to not publish false advertisements in the future, and avoid making such claims to the media. The Supreme Court had in November also warned that it would impose a cost of Rs 1 crore on each false advertisement made by Patanjali Ayurved.

A bench led by Justice Amanullah had said that the issue could not be reduced to a debate between allopathy/modern medicine and Ayurvedic products.

The bench was proposing to place a complete ban on advertisements but Senior Advocate Vipin Sanghi appearing on behalf of Patanjali Ayurved said that the company is manufacturing products like toothpaste also and a complete ban will affect its commercial operations.

The court then specified that the advertisement ban would apply to products related to diseases specified under the Act.

The matter pertains to a petition in which the IMA sought to direct the Centre, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), and the CCPA (Central Consumer Protection Authority of India) to take action against such advertisements and campaigns to promote the Ayush system by disparaging the Allopathic system.

After the IMA’s petition, In August 2022, the Supreme Court’s Bench headed by then CJI Ramana issued notice to the above authorities, including Patanjali Ayurved Ltd (the company co-founded by Baba Ramdev.).

On November 21, 2023, the Court reprimanded Patanjali Ayurved for continuing to publish misleading claims and advertisements against modern systems of medicine,.

Patanjali was again found flouting the Supreme Court orders so today the bench issued a contempt notice to Patanjali among others for charges of Contempt of Court.

Senior Advocate PS Patwalia with advocate Prabhas Bajaj appeared for IMA. Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj appeared for the Central government. Advocate Mrinmoi Chatterjee represented the National Association of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an intervenor in the case.

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