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5 minutes read

Supreme Court Rejects Patanjali Ayurved’s Apology, Warns Baba Ramdev Of Perjury

The Supreme Court on Tuesday strongly criticised Patanjali Ayurved, its Founder Baba Ramdev, and Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna while hearing the contempt case against them over the misleading medical advertisements in breach of an undertaking given to the Court.

| Published on April 2, 2024

Supreme Court Rejects Patanjali Ayurved's Apology, Warns Baba Ramdev Of Perjury

The Supreme Court on Tuesday strongly criticised Patanjali Ayurved, its Founder Baba Ramdev, and Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna while hearing the contempt case against them over the misleading medical advertisements in breach of an undertaking given to the Court.

Ramdev and Balkrishna appeared in court following the direction issued on March 19.

They tendered an unconditional apology before the Supreme Court for violating the apex court’s order over misleading advertisements of Patanjali’s medicinal products

Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah frowned upon Patanjali’s claim that its media department wasn’t informed about the Court’s order to stop airing the advertisements.

The statement was included in an apology letter from Patanjali’s Managing Director, Acharya Balkrishna.

Reports quoted Justice Kohli said, “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 stated.

During the hearing, the bench also observed that Patanjali appeared to be guilty of perjury (lying to the court).

Justice Kohli mentioned, “You said documents have been attached, but the documents were created later on. This is a clear case of perjury! We are not closing the doors on you but we are telling all that we have noted.”

The bench also criticised Baba Ramdev for the way he conducted a press conference soon after the Supreme Court cautioned Patanjali about running misleading advertisements.

The Court wasn’t impressed with Ramdev’s counsel’s response, stating that the court’s remarks would be a lesson for him.

The Court stated, “We are not here to teach them. (With) the respect they command, they cannot be compared to common citizens. They claim to have done great research. We are taking this seriously because of this only. We usually do not follow through contempt cases and it is about making one realise the majesty of law but there are exceptions and perhaps you are falling under that exception.”

Today, the Court emphasised that Ramdev and Balkrishna must attend the next hearing. They are required to appear in person.

The next hearing is scheduled for April 10 and Patanjali and its management have been instructed to submit a better apology affidavit.

“…It is also stated that the affidavit will be filed today and a better one is also to be filed. Last opportunity given to file and let it be filed within one week,” the Court ordered.

Addressing senior advocate Balbir Singh, who represented Baba Ramdev, the Court added, “Our goal is for the rule of law is to be followed and the faith in the Constitution is upheld. This is the last opportunity given because of the trust we have in you.”

Patanjali was represented by senior advocate Vipin Sanghi, who argued that Patanjali’s activities weren’t solely commercial. However, the Court didn’t agree with this argument.

Justice Kohli replied, “It is a commercial organisation.”

“Don’t say you are serving the public interest or public good etc.,” Justice Amanullah added.

Senior advocate PS Patwalia represented the Indian Medical Association (IMA) in the case against Patanjali.

“They have tried to shift the blame to the media department. They show a boy and say we have cured him!” Patwalia submitted.

Speaking to the Union’s counsel, the Court expressed its queries to the AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) Ministry about why it didn’t promote its view that ayurvedic products are essentially supplements to other medicines.

“We have questions for AYUSH. You issued notice to Patanjali and they filed a reply and reply is not before us and we are wondering why. COVID was in 2022 and you had yourself stated that these were at best a supplement to the main medicine. This was not publicized at all. Nothing could move without Central go-ahead during COVID and you did nothing to make this known. It was a critical period,” Justice Kohli stated.

She questioned the Central government for not taking action against Patanjali, even though Patanjali made disparaging remarks about modern medicine.

Justice Kohli asked, “AYUSH has much to commend and there is a limit to what they can do. But the manner in which other modes have been disparaged is utterly shocking. They have mocked the others. Have you seen the transcript?”

Amanullah added, “He (Baba Ramdev) has done a lot for Yoga. But that cannot be stretched to pick holes in everything else.”

Following today’s hearing, the Court has ordered the inclusion of the Drugs and License Department as a party to the case.

Senior advocate Balbir Singh urged the Court to accept Ramdev’s in-person apology. Following this, Justice Kohli replied that the apology should be submitted in a written affidavit.

Senior advocate Singh assured that a more improved affidavit could be submitted.

The Court emphasised that Patanjali and its management should have taken the earlier warning about the contempt of court case seriously.

The court was hearing a plea filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) against an alleged smear campaign carried out by Patanjali and Baba Ramdev against the COVID-19 vaccination drive and modern medicine.

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