Misleading ads case: SC grants one week time to Baba Ramdev to tender ‘public apology’

New Delhi, Apr 16 (Representative) The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave one week time to Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev and others to tender a ‘public apology’ and revert back to the court on April 23 in a case related to the misleading advertisements against Allopathic medicines.Baba Ramdev, co-founder of Patanjali Ayurved Limited, personally appeared before the Supreme Court today and expressed an unconditional apology for publishing misleading advertisements and making comments against Allopathic medicines in breach of an undertaking given to the Court.Acharya Balkrishna, the Managing Director of Patanjali, also personally apologised to the Court. A bench comprising Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah personally interacted with Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna and asked them as why they acted in violation of the undertaking given to the Court. The Yoga Guru replied in Hindi and said, “Humne jo kiya vo uss samay nai khan chaiye tha…hum aagey yaad rakhengey (What we did at that point of time, it should not have been done. We will remember this in future)…vo utsah mein aisa ho gya (it happened in an impulse)…aagey se hum nai krenegy(won’t do so in future)”, Baba Ramdev said in response to Justice Kohli’s queries.Hume nahi krana chahiye tha(We should not have done it)”, Balkrishna also told the bench. The bench adjourned the matter till April 23 to allow them to redeem their acts.Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Patanjali, told the Court that they are “ready to give a public apology to show contrition.” The Apex Court posted the matter for April 23, and in its order said, “contemnors want to redeem themselves and demonstrate that they want to take some steps unilaterally.” The Top Court had earlier on two occasions refused to accept the apology of Yoga Guru. On April 2, the Court refused to accept the first apology filed by Patanjali MD, after noting that it was not in proper format. On April 10, Baba Ramdev and Balkrishna had sought exemption from appearance as they were travelling abroad but had filed an apology through their counsel.

The Court refused to accept the second affidavit of apology filed by Patanjali MD noting that Balkrishna and Ramdev had sworn an affidavit with non-existing flight tickets to evade personal appearance before the Court. The Court also reprimanded the Uttarakhand State authorities for failing to take action against Patanjali under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954.The matter pertains to a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association against Patanjali’s advertisements attacking allopathy and making claims about curing certain diseases.The Division Bench had previously also issued a Contempt notice to Patanjali Ayurved and Managing Director Acharya Balakrishna and Baba Ram Dev over its continuing publication of misleading advertisements. To this Baba Ramdev had assured the court and an undertaking was given to the Court that all such advertisements would be removed. The IMA sought to direct the Centre, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), and the CCPA (Central Consumer Protection Authority of India) to take action against such advertisements and campaigns to promote the Ayush system by disparaging the Allopathic system. In August 2022, the Supreme Court’s Bench headed by then Chief Justice of India N V Ramana issued notice to the above authorities, including Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. On November 21, 2023, the Court reprimanded Patanjali Ayurved for continuing to publish misleading claims and advertisements against modern systems of medicine.Justice Amanullah went on to issue a stern warning of imposing a cost of Rs 1 Crore in case such advertisements are continued.Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi appearing for Patanjali Ayurveda assured that they would not publish any such advertisements in the future and would also ensure that casual statements are not made in the press. The Court recorded the undertaking in its order.