Supreme Court Declines Patanjali Ayurved’s Apology, Warns Baba Ramdev of Perjury Proceedings in Contempt Case

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The Supreme Court’s recent ruling on April 2nd addressed the contempt case against Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, its Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna, and co-founder Baba Ramdev. The case stemmed from the publication of misleading medical advertisements, breaching a previous undertaking to the Court.

Balkrishna and Ramdev appeared before the Court as directed on March 19th. The Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah was overseeing a petition by the Indian Medical Association against Patanjali’s advertisements targeting allopathy and claiming to cure specific diseases.

Despite prior assurances to refrain from such ads, Patanjali persisted, prompting the Court to issue a Contempt notice on February 27th. The Court sought the personal appearance of Balkrishna and Ramdev, who were involved in post-undertaking press conferences and ads.

However, the Court noted the absence of Ramdev’s affidavit and emphasized the need for a thorough resolution. Senior Advocate Balbir Singh, representing Ramdev, expressed readiness to apologize in person. But the Court insisted on proper affidavits and granted a week for Ramdev to respond.

During proceedings, the Court scrutinized Balkrishna’s affidavit, questioning the media department’s alleged ignorance of Court orders. The Court expressed dissatisfaction with the explanation, stressing the gravity of violating undertakings.

The Court also rebuked Patanjali’s disregard for the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954, calling it “perfunctory.” Despite claims of scientific progress, the Court emphasized adherence to existing laws and dismissed the apology.

Additionally, the Court warned Ramdev of potential perjury proceedings, highlighting discrepancies in his actions and statements before the Court. The Court underscored the severity of false statements under oath and signaled intent to pursue perjury charges.

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The ruling follows previous warnings to Patanjali for misleading claims, with Justice Amanullah previously threatening a Rs. 1 Crore penalty for continued infractions. Despite assurances to cease misleading advertisements, Patanjali persisted, prompting the Court’s intervention.

Reference: INDIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION vs. UNION OF INDIA (W.P.(C) No. 000645 – / 2022), Supreme Court Proceedings, Indian Medical Association v. Union of India, Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954

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