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SC Reserves Verdict In Contempt Of Court Case Against Patanjali Over ‘Misleading’ Ads

Reserving the verdict in the ‘misleading’ ads case filed against Patanjali Ayurved and its Managing Director, Acharya Balkrishna and Founder Baba Ramdev, the Supreme Court has also exempted them from making a personal appearance in the court.

| Published on May 16, 2024

SC Reserves Verdict In Contempt Of Court Case Against Patanjali Over 'Misleading' Ads

The Supreme Court has reserved its verdict in a contempt case against Patanjali Ayurved‘s Managing Director, Acharya Balkrishna and Founder, Baba Ramdev, over the company’s ‘misleading’ advertisements. The Court has also exempted them from making a personal appearance in the court.

As per reports, the apex court asked Patanjali Ayurved whether the sale of its 14 products, whose manufacturing licenses were suspended by the Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority last month, has stopped.

Additionally, a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah dispensed with Ramdev and Balkrishna’s personal appearance in Court after it was submitted that an affidavit would be filed explaining the actions taken to remove ‘misleading’ ads of Patanjali.

The bench told the counsel appearing for Patanjali Ayurved, Balkrishna and Ramdev, to check if their stockists have stopped storing and selling the banned products and to give an affidavit. Senior Advocate Balbir Singh, representing Ramdev and Balkrishna, told the bench that they would file an affidavit on this and had written to the channels where advertisements of these products were being shown and that the sale of banned products had stopped.

“We are proposing to reserve orders but your affidavit will make a difference,” the bench said.

The top court noted that the counsel appearing for Patanjali Ayurved, Balkrishna and Ramdev have sought time to file affidavits indicating the steps being taken to recall the advertisements of products whose licenses have been suspended and for recalling these products. During the hearing, the bench also dealt with the issue concerning the Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority.

The counsel appearing for Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority said that the manufacturing licenses of 14 products of Patanjali Ayurved were suspended last month.

“Did you check whether these products are still available in the market?” the Court asked.

The counsel said they were making an inventory of the stocks and have mentioned it in their affidavit.
The Court further noted the submissions of Patanjali’s counsel that the affidavit proposed to be filed was without prejudice to their right and contention to assail the order of suspension of the license of these products before the appropriate forum.

The affidavit is required to be filled within three weeks and will include efforts taken to recall Patanjali products whose licenses have been suspended.

“Orders are reserved on the contempt notice issued to respondents five to seven (Patanjali Ayurved, Balkrishna and Ramdev),” the bench said.

It said the presence of Ramdev and Balkrishna would be dispensed with till the court passes specific orders for their presence. After reserving orders in the contempt matter, the Court said, “Public is cognisant if they have choices they make well-informed choices…Baba Ramdev has a lot of influence, use it in the right way.”

Furthermore, the bench noted that the affidavit of the state licensing authority of West Bengal was on record in the matter while the counsel appearing for Nagaland has stated that the affidavit was filed on Monday.

According to reports, the top court observed that Nagaland’s affidavit was not on record. It gave one last opportunity of four weeks to all the other state licensing authorities of the states and union territories to file their respective affidavits.

“Besides pointing out the action taken on the complaints that may have been received by the concerned state licensing authorities, the affidavits shall also indicate the nature of suo motu action taken by each of the said authorities to ensure that there are no misleading advertisements issued by manufacturers, advertisers, advertising agencies of the relevant health products/food items/food supplements,” it said.

The next hearing for the case is scheduled for July. The Court was hearing a plea filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) regarding a purported ‘smear campaign’ by Patanjali and its founders Ramdev and Balkrishna, against the COVID-19 vaccination drive and modern medicine.

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