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Supreme Court reserves verdict in Patanjali misleading advertisements case

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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Bhavini Mishra New Delhi

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday told Patanjali Ayurved to file an affidavit within three weeks on the steps being taken to recall advertisements of Patanjali products of which licences have been suspended and for recalling medicines that have been sent for stocking.

The court had earlier pulled up the Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority after which it had suspended the licences of 14 products of Patanjali and its sister firm Divya Pharmacy under Rule 159(1) of the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules 1954. The State also filed a criminal complaint against the company, Acharya Balkrishna, and Baba Ramdev under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954.

"When you want to move, you move like lightning! And when you don't want to, you don't," the Supreme Court had on 30 April told the Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority (SLA) after it suspended manufacturing licences for 14 products of Patanjali Ayurved Ltd and Divya Pharmacy.

The court has now reserved its verdict on the contempt proceedings against Patanjali Ltd, its managing director Acharya Balkrishna, and co-founder Baba Ramdev over the publication of misleading medical advertisements. This was in breach of a court undertaking.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah on Tuesday pointed out there were stocks already in circulation when licences for 14 Patanjali products were suspended and has now asked Patanjali to inform the court in three weeks about the recall of misleading advertisements for suspended products.
During the hearing, the court also expressed its displeasure with the apology given by the President of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Dr RV Asokan, for his remarks in a media interview over certain observations made by the Court.

"We have the same to say for your apology, as we did for Patanjali. It's a sub judice matter in which you were party. Your counsel could have asked for expunging remarks. But you went to press. We are not at all happy. We can't condone so easily," Justice Kohli stated.

Justice Kohli said Asokan ‘can’t sit on the couch giving an interview to the press and lampooning the court’.

The court had earlier taken an exception to comments reportedly made by Indian Medical Association (IMA) President RV Asokan in an interview with PTI, about the court’s criticism of the practices of private doctors. The Supreme Court had before the interview said that IMA needs to 'put its house in order'.

The media interview of Asokan was brought to the attention of a Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah by Patanjali’s lawyer.

“After all this, you do this? The IMA has not covered itself with glory… How can you decide which way we (Supreme Court) should go?” Justice Hima Kohli had asked the IMA lawyers.

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.

On 21 November 2023, Patanjali Ayurved co-founders Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna had 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 22 November, Ramdev held a press conference saying remedies for blood pressure were “lies spread by allopathy”. And on 4 December, the unlisted firm in which Balkrishna holds about 94 per cent stake, issued a similar advertisement. It irked the apex court.

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First Published: May 14 2024 | 8:36 PM IST

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