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SC asks Ramdev, Balkrishna to appear personally in misleading ads case

The summon followed Patanjali Ayurved and Acharya Balkrishna's failure to respond to a contempt notice of the top court

Patanjali, Baba ramdev

Bhavini Mishra

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday summoned Patanjali Ayurved’s Cofounder Baba Ramdev and Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna to appear before it for failing to reply to the court’s contempt notice. This notice was issued against them and the company in relation to a case concerning misleading advertisements.

The court, on February 27, issued a contempt notice to Patanjali Ayurved and Acharya Balkrishna for flouting its previous orders by continuing to make false and misleading claims regarding the efficacy of their products in curing diseases.

Both the company and Balakrishna had been asked to reply in three weeks why action against them should not be taken.

“How can you be in teeth of our orders? We had our hands tied earlier but not now,” a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said.

ALSO READ: What is the Magic Remedies Act under which Patanjali is facing scrutiny

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Patanjali Ayurved, took objection to this and said, “How does Ramdev come into the picture? Violation of law is not contempt of court. What is being relied on in open court has to be recorded in the order.”

However, the court did not entertain Rohatgi’s argument and summoned Ramdev and Acharya to be present in court. It also asked the duo to file a reply to the contempt notice issued last month. Patanjali Ayurved is the parent company of Patanjali Foods.

The court also said the duo were in violation of Sections 3 and 4 of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.

The Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah had, in the last hearing, temporarily 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. The court had warned Patanjali from making any statement against any system of medicine.

The apex court also asked the Centre to file an affidavit on steps it has taken 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 told Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj. While Nataraj agreed that misleading advertisements cannot be accepted, he said that it is up to the States to take action under the Act.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) alleging that the ‘yoga guru and his company’ had started a ‘smear campaign’ against the Covid-19 vaccination drive and modern medicine.

When the case was taken up in the morning, Justice Amanullah came down heavily on Patanjali for yet another advertisement that contained misleading claims.

“You had the courage and guts to come up with this advertisement after the order of this Court! And then you come up with this advertisement. Permanent relief, what do you mean by permanent relief? Is it a cure? We are going to pass a very, very strict order. You are tempting the Court,” the judge had said.

“You had the courage and guts to come up with this advertisement after the order of this Court! …We are going to pass a very, very strict order” – Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, Supreme Court of India  

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First Published: Mar 19 2024 | 8:45 PM IST

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