SC rebukes central government over Patanjali Ayurved’s misleading ads

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The Supreme Court (SC) in its recent order on Tuesday criticized the central government for not taking action against Patanjali Ayurved’s publication of false and misleading advertisements. 

The bench consisting of Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Justice Hima Kohli, expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s inaction in response to a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Patanjali Ayurved, co-owned by yoga guru Ramdev, has been promoting medicinal products in its advertising, claiming to cure various diseases and ailments. The court directed Patanjali to cease making any statements against any medicine system in its advertisements across print and other media forms. Additionally, the bench ordered the government to promptly take action against Patanjali Ayurved.

In response to the misleading advertisements, the court initiated contempt of court proceedings against Patanjali Ayurved co-owners Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, issuing a show-cause notice to them. The co-owners are required to submit their reply within two weeks.

The bench strongly condemned such misleading ads, deeming them unacceptable, contemptuous, and in violation of its previous orders. It emphasized that claims of providing a permanent cure for conditions like blood pressure and diabetes are not only misleading but also contrary to the Drugs Act.

During the hearing, Justice Amanullah expressed his discontent to the Additional Solicitor General, stating, “The entire country is taken for a ride! You(Government) wait for two years when the Act says this (misleading advertisements) is prohibited.”

In its order, the court restrained Patanjali Ayurved from advertising and branding its ‘medicinal products specified as treating diseases or ailments’. Notably, this order does not impact the listed entity, Patanjali Foods Ltd, which sells products such as oil, juices, biscuits, and soya chunks.

In a previous order on November 21, 2023, the court had cautioned the company about potential fines for each product if false claims were made regarding its ability to ‘cure’ a specific disease. 

The Indian Medical Association, in its writ petition, argued that the unverified claims made by Patanjali Ayurved violate laws such as the Drugs & Other Magic Remedies Act, 1954, and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

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