Patanjali advertisements case | Ramdev, associate apologise before Supreme Court

The court said Patanjali Ayurved’s Ramdev and Balkrishna were ‘not off the hook’; the court was assured they would take unilateral steps to redeem themselves in the eyes of the law and the public

Updated - April 17, 2024 12:42 am IST

Published - April 16, 2024 12:14 pm IST - New Delhi

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev appears before the Supreme Court for the hearing in the misleading advertisement case filed against the Patanjali Ayurveda, in New Delhi. File.

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev appears before the Supreme Court for the hearing in the misleading advertisement case filed against the Patanjali Ayurveda, in New Delhi. File. | Photo Credit: ANI

Facing contempt action, a visibly contrite Baba Ramdev and his associate Acharya Balkrishna unconditionally apologised in an open court room on Tuesday for violating a Supreme Court order to not advertise the herbal wares of their company, Patanjali Ayurved, even as the Supreme Court said they are still “ not off the hook”.

A Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah gave the self-styled yoga guru and his associate a week to prove they were truly apologetic.

Also read | Why did Centre turn a blind eye to Patanjali’s ‘COVID cure’ claim, asks Supreme Court

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi assured the court that his clients would take steps, unilaterally at that, to redeem themselves in the eyes of the law and the public.

The court listed the case on April 23.

The hearing began with the Bench summoning Ramdev and Balkrishna to the front of the courtroom.

Justice Kohli addressed Ramdev, dressed in his trademark saffron attire, in Hindi that the court was aware of his work in the field of yoga.

The Bench however asked him why he had continued to advertise his herbal medicines despite the Union government recommending an investigation against them under the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act.

The court had said the advertisements of Patanjali to cure everything from diabetes, obesity to liver dysfunction and even COVID-19 during the months of pandemic were “deliberate and willful violations” of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act of 1954 and its Rules.

The judges questioned him as to why he had held a press conference, that too, a day after giving an undertaking in the Supreme Court to refrain from advertising “cures” in violation of the 1954 Act.

Justice Kohli asked Ramdev whether it was right to point the finger against other fields of medicine like allopathy, and claim his company’s medicines were far superior to them. Justice Kohli said it was “irresponsible behaviour” on the part of the ascetic to make such claims when a large number of people looked up to him.

At one point, the yoga guru admitted that he might have got carried away at some point with his claims. He folded his hands in apology to the Supreme Court, saying he would be prudent in future.

Mr. Balkrishna echoed the yoga guru saying he had realised his faults. He said it was lack of knowledge on his part.

Justice Amanullah said the “law was equally for all”. Judges of the court followed the Constitution to which they had sworn an oath to uphold. It did not matter who was on the other side, the majesty of the court had to be safeguarded.

In the previous hearing, on April 10, the Supreme Court had refused to accept a second round of apology from Ramdev, Patanjali Ayurved and its Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna in the contempt case.

The court had flagged concern about Fast Moving Consumer Goods’ (FMCG) companies like Patanjali playing with the health of the gullible public while government failed to crack the whip.

“The victim is always the public. We are concerned with all those FMCG companies who are taking their consumers and clients up and down the garden path, showing them very rosy pictures about what their products can do for them,” Justice Hima Kohli had observed.

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