“Your Apology Is a Mere Lip Service”, SC Raps Patanjali, Acharya Balkrishna and Baba Ramdev
Moneylife Digital Team 02 April 2024
Coming down heavily on Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, its managing director (MD) Acharya Balkrishna and founder Baba Ramdev, the Supreme Court termed their apology as a 'mere lip service'. The apex court also says Patanjali prima facie has committed perjury since documents, which were created later, were stated to have been filed. It directed Acharya Balkrishna and Baba Ramdev to remain personally present during the next hearing on 10th April.
 
 
A bench of justice Hima Kohli and justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah also rebuked Patanjali Ayurved over the casual apology affidavit it submitted before the court for its failure to stop carrying misleading advertisements to promote its ayurvedic products by disparaging modern medicine. 
 
 
Patanjali stated that its media wing was unaware of the apex court order asking the company to halt the broadcast of its advertisements. An irked justice Kolhi says, "If this is indefensible, then your apology will not work. This is a gross violation of the undertaking given to the top court. You have to ensure that your undertaking, which is solemn should have been adhered to. We can say that we do not wish to accept that the media department does not know about what is happening in this court and it is an island. This is more of a lip service! ... You violated the solemn undertaking with impunity. We are not willing to accept this and this is perfunctory! What is the reason to accept your apology?" 
 
"This is all humbug! You say 'if the court feels, etc.' ... We cannot look into your heart! This is not how contempt cases are dealt with. In some matters, some cases have to be taken to their logical end. There cannot be so much magnanimity!" justice Amanullah added.
 
According to a report from Bar & Bench, the apex court made it clear that personal presence of Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna is not dispensed with, and that they would have to appear before the court on the next hearing too. The matter will be heard next on 10 April 2024, when Patanjali and its management have been ordered to file a better affidavit of apology, the report says.
 
Addressing solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the Union government, the bench says it has questions for the ministry of AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy) on why it did not publicise its stance that ayurvedic products were, at best, a supplement to other medicines. 
 
Justice Kolhi questioned the Union government's apparent failure to act despite Patanjali's disparaging claims against modern medicine.  
 
"You issued notice to Patanjali and they filed a reply and reply is not before us and we are wondering why. COVID-19 was in 2022 and you had yourself stated that these were at best a supplement to the main medicine. This was not publicised at all. Nothing could move without the Union government's go-ahead during COVID-19 and you did nothing to make this known. It was a critical period," she says.
 
 
In February 2024, while barring Patanjali Ayurved from advertising or branding its medicines for treating specified diseases, including diabetes, obesity and asthma, under the Act, the apex court issued a contempt notice to the company and its MD. (Read: Patanjali Barred from Publishing Misleading Medicine Ads; SC Issues Contempt Notices to Patanjali Ayurved and Acharya Balakrishna
 
During the hearing, when justice Kohli asked about the memorandum of understanding signed between the Union ministry of Ayush and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), additional solicitor general of India (ASG) KM Nataraj stated that under Section 8 of the Act, the execution part is done by the state government and the ministry cannot do the implementation. 
 
"Prima facie, this court is of the view that Patanjali Ayurveda is in violation of the undertaking...Issue notice as to why the contempt proceedings should not be initiated against Patanjali Ayurveda and its managing director (Acharya Balakrishna)...A detailed affidavit shall be filed by the Union (government) for the steps taken in terms of the last order. If the court is not satisfied with the steps, appropriate orders will be passed," the bench says.
 
In November 2023, SC had asked Patanjali Ayurveda not to make any misleading advertisements or false claims, and warned of hefty penalties of Rs1 crore on every product for false or misleading claims in advertisements. (Read: SC Warns Patanjali of Rs1 Crore Penalty for Every Product with Misleading Claims in Advertisement)
Comments
trisha.sudhakar
2 months ago
Patanjali seem to have thought that they were above the law. They should restrict themselves only to Ayurveda and Yoga where they're believed to excel.
iaminprabhu
3 months ago
Even now, the BABA & ACHARYA are trying to fool the SC and trying to get away easily by blaming their Media Dept. They should be PENALISED for their casual approach & also made to APOLOGIZE PUBLICLY to IMA and Common Citizens through Quarter Page National Newspapers Quarter Page Ads.
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