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SC rejects 'unconditional and unqualified apology' by Patanjali Ayurved MD

The apex court says it does not want to be "so generous"

Ramdev

New Delhi: Yoga guru Ramdev after appearing before the Supreme Court in connection with the Patanjali misleading advertisements case, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Photo: PTI)

Bhavini Mishra New Delhi

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the "unconditional and unqualified apology" offered by Patanjali Ayurved co-founder Baba Ramdev and his close aide Acharya Balkrishna in connection with the company’s misleading advertisements, asserting that the court does not want to be “so generous in this case.”

The apex court said the apology by Ramdev and Balkrishna, the Managing Director of Patanjali Ayurved, and was merely on paper and warned that they should be ready to face penal action for violation of the undertaking.


"Their back is against the wall. We decline to accept this. We consider it a deliberate violation of undertaking. Be ready for something next to rejection of affidavit," Justice Hima Kohli told senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Patanjali.

Justices Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah refused to accept the apology for airing the advertisements in breach of an undertaking given to the court in November last year. 

The court also refused to accept the apology affidavit filed by Ramdev, who is also facing contempt proceedings.


"Why should we not treat your apology with the same disdain as shown to court undertaking? We are not convinced. Now going to turn down this apology," Justice Kohli said.

"One man seeks mercy. What about those countless innocent people who took the medicines?" the court told Rohatgi.

When Rohatgi said: "People make mistakes", Justice Kohli retorted, saying: "Then they suffer. We don't want to be so generous in this case."

Towards the end of the hearing, Rohatgi said Patanjali Ayurved was prepared to issue a public apology. The court, however, did not entertain this. 

The apex court also came down heavily on Uttarakhand’s licensing authorities for failing to take legal action against Patanjali and its subsidiary Divya Pharmacy. The bench asked why it should not think that the authorities were “hand in glove” with Patanjali/Divya Pharmacy.

In its order, the court said it was "appalled" to note that, apart from "pushing the file", the State Licensing Authorities did nothing and were merely trying to "pass on the buck" to "somehow delay the matter."

It said the State Licensing Authority was "equally complicit" due to its inaction against Divya Pharmacy despite having information about their advertisements violating the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act.

The court has told all officers holding the post of Joint Director of the State Licensing Authority, Haridwar between 2018 and till date to file affidavits explaining inaction on their part.

The court said it would not take it lightly as the authority appeared to have kept its "eyes shut deliberately".

"We will rip you apart," it said.

False claims of travel

The court said Patanjali MD & Baba Ramdev tried to evade personal appearance before the court by making false claims of travelling abroad.

"The fact remains that on the date when the affidavits were sworn (March 30), there was no such ticket in existence. Therefore, the assumption is that the respondents were trying to wriggle out of their personal appearance before the court, which is most unacceptable," the court said.


Background 

Ramdev and Balkrishna on November 21, 2023 assured the court that they would not make any “casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy or against any system of medicine”.

But, just a day later, on November 22, Ramdev held a press conference saying remedies for blood pressure were “lies spread by allopathy’’. And on December 4, the unlisted firm in which Balkrishna holds about 94 per cent stake, issued a similar advertisement. It irked the apex court.

The court is hearing a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) against Patanjali’s advertisements attacking allopathy and making claims about curing certain diseases.





















 

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First Published: Apr 10 2024 | 7:52 PM IST

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