India: After Supreme Court rap, Ramdev's Patanjali issues another 'bigger' apology

Apex court asked the lawyers to provide a copy of the apology advertisements without enlarging them, emphasising they should not need a microscope to read it


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Published: Wed 24 Apr 2024, 9:36 AM

A day after the Indian Supreme Court questioned the minuscule public apology issued by Patanjali Ayurved over misleading advertisements, the firm issued another bigger-sized apology in newspapers on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a bench hearing the case had directed senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Patanjali, to “cut out the ads and then supply it to us” without enlarging. “We want to see the actual size. This is our direction… we want to see that when you issue an advertisement, it does not mean we have to see it with a microscope,” the court said.

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The bench was hearing a case filed by IMA against an alleged smear campaign carried out by Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd and its founders against the Covid-19 vaccination drive and modern medicine.

During the contempt case hearing for misleading advertisement by Patanjali Ayurved, the bench was informed that an apology was published in 67 newspapers.

The bench asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Patanjali, if the public apology published by them in newspapers yesterday were as big as their advertisements.

Rohatgi said that the advertisements cost Rs 10 lakh.

Co-founder of Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, yoga teacher Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, Patanjali's Managing Director, were present before the bench pursuant to earlier directions.

Adjourning the hearing till April 30, the bench asked Patanjali's lawyers to bring on record the copy of the apology advertisements.

On April 16, Ramdev and Balkrishna apologised to the Supreme Court for publishing misleading advertisements and making comments against allopathic medicines and Ramdev assured that he would "remain conscious about it in the future."

The top court was hearing the contempt case against Patanjali Ayurved, Ramdev and Balkrishna in connection with the misleading advertisements of their products.

Earlier, on two occasions, they tendered unconditional and unqualified apology with regard to the issue of advertisement. However, the bench refused to accept their affidavits, tendering apologies, and slammed them for the misleading advertisements carried out by them and the company.

Earlier, the apex court also slammed the Uttarakhand government for being "hand-in-glove" with errant licencing officers who failed to take action against Patanjali for publishing misleading advertisements.

The top court had earlier also directed Patanjali not to publish false advertisements in the future and later issued contempt of court notices to the company, Ramdev and Balkrishna.

The Apex Court also took a strong objection to the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for alleged unethical acts where medicines are prescribed, which are "expensive and unnecessary," saying the association needs to "put its house in order."

"The petitioner (IMA) needs to put its own house in order regarding alleged unethical acts of the organisation where medicines are prescribed, which is expensive and unnecessary," said a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah.

The apex court said that wherever there is a misuse of the position by the IMA to prescribe expensive medicines and the line of treatment, it needs "closer examination."

It further told IMA that while it is pointing fingers at Patanjali, four fingers are pointing back at them.

"Your (IMA) doctors also endorsing medicines in the allopathic field, if that's happening, why should we not turn the beam at you (IMA)?" asked the bench.

"Your (IMA) members also endorsed such products... your members are prescribing medicines," the bench said.

The bench was hearing a case filed by IMA against an alleged smear campaign carried out by Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd and its founders against the COVID-19 vaccination drive and modern medicine.

The apex court said it would explore the larger issue of misleading health claims made by Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies and impleaded the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as parties to the case.

The top court said FMCG companies were taking the public for a ride by publishing advertisements of products that affect the health of babies, school-going children and senior citizens. It asked the Centre about the steps taken by it regarding misleading advertisements over the past three years.

"We are not looking at the respondents (Patanjali) alone... the kind of coverage we have seen, now we are looking at all... We are looking at children, babies, women, and no one can be taken for a ride and the Union (government) must wake up to this," the bench said.

The apex court has asked the licencing authorities of all States and Union Territories to be impleaded as parties in the case. It further directed the addition of the Indian Medical Association as a party to the case.

The bench said it is not here to "gun for a particular party," It is in largest interest of consumers and the public to know how they are being misled, their entitlement to know the truth and what steps they can take.


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