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Patanjali misleading ads case: Ramdev tenders apology in Supreme Court

Ramdev submitted an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court, clarifying that Patanjali's intention was solely to encourage healthier living among citizens by promoting the use of its products


Baba Ramdev

Nandini Singh New Delhi

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The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday rebuked Patanjali Ayurved, led by Ramdev, for disregarding its directives in the misleading advertisements case. The court instructed the company to treat the contempt petition against it with gravity. 

Both Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved's managing director Acharya Balkrishna appeared in person, as directed by the Supreme Court. The company tendered an 'unconditional apology' for breaching the court's order.

"Take this contempt seriously. We are getting the impression that you are representing somebody who is in the teeth of an undertaking given to this court. For you to go like a shot and give a press conference in 24 hours shows you knew about the proceedings and then you violated them," the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, told senior advocate Balbir Singh, appearing for Ramdev.

The Supreme Court further stated that it was considering pursuing the contempt petition against Patanjali to its 'logical conclusion'.

"We usually do not follow through on contempt cases, and it is about making one realise the majesty of the law, but there are exceptions, and perhaps you are falling under that exception," said the bench.

The Supreme Court further slammed the company for persisting in publishing advertisements despite prior warnings. Patanjali, on the other hand, claimed that its media department was unaware of the order. Although Patanjali apologised for the oversight, the apex court dismissed it as mere 'lip service'.

"Being the co-founder of the organisation, we refuse to believe that the company was not aware. You holding the press conference within 24 hours shows that you were cognisant," SC's Justice Kohli said.

"Not just the Supreme Court; every order passed by courts across the country has to be respected," said Justice Kohli, adding, "[This is] absolute defiance. We are not convinced by the apology. We need to take contempt cases to a logical conclusion."

Patanjali Ayurved was directed to submit two affidavits for separate instances of contempt. The first affidavit addressed why the company persisted in disseminating misleading advertisements despite committing not to do so in court. The second affidavit concerned its failure to respond to the contempt notice issued to Balakrishna and the company.

The Supreme Court also admonished the central government, stating that it, too, bore responsibility, reiterating that the government had chosen to turn a blind eye.

"You yourself have said that the product they come out with cannot be backed. What did you do to publicise the same with the common public?" the bench asked the Centre.

Patanjali misleading ads case

The case revolves around Patanjali Ayurved, which sells herbal products claimed to treat various serious diseases while also critiquing other systems of medicine in its advertisements. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) had filed a plea alleging that the company was conducting a smear campaign against modern medicine.

Despite promising the Supreme Court that it would not violate any laws related to the advertising or branding of its products, the company was found to be in violation. This resulted in the initiation of contempt proceedings.

On March 19, the Supreme Court directed Ramdev and Balkrishna to appear in court personally after they failed to respond to the notice issued in the contempt proceedings.

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First Published: Apr 02 2024 | 11:38 AM IST

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