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Supreme Court Issues Contempt Notice to Patanjali Ayurved for Violating Assurance on Misleading Advertisements

Supreme Court Issues Contempt Notice to Patanjali Ayurved for Violating Assurance on Misleading Advertisements


New Delhi:  In a scathing rebuke, the Supreme Court on Tuesday took a stern stand against Patanjali Ayurved, issuing a contempt notice for continuing to publish misleading advertisements related to medicinal cures. The Court, during the hearing on February 27, expressed dismay over the company’s failure to adhere to its assurance given in November last year that no such misleading statements would be made.

The Bench, comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, issued a notice to Patanjali Ayurved and Acharya Balakrishna (Managing Director of Patanjali) to show cause why action should not be taken against them for contempt of court. The Court also restrained Patanjali Ayurved from advertising or branding products meant to address diseases specified in the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954.

The matter was brought to the Court’s attention through a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), seeking to control negative advertisements against the vaccination drive and modern medicines, describing it as a “smear campaign.” The Court, during the hearing, expressed concern over the misleading claims made by Patanjali Ayurved and the potential harm caused to public health.

Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, without mincing words, criticized Patanjali for violating the previous assurance and issued a strong warning, stating, “Today, I am going to pass a really strict order. You flout this order!” The Court emphasized that misleading advertisements by Patanjali Ayurved have a potential impact on public health, particularly when the nation is grappling with health challenges.

The Bench also sought information from the Union Government regarding the actions taken under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954 in relation to Patanjali’s advertisements. The Court questioned why action had not been taken earlier, expressing concern that the entire country had been misled.

Senior Advocate PS Patwalia, representing the Indian Medical Association, pointed out that Patanjali continued making misleading claims even after the Court’s order in November 2023. He cited a press conference held by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishna, where misleading claims about permanent cures for various ailments were made.

The Court instructed the Union to file an affidavit explaining the steps taken against Patanjali Ayurved under the relevant Act. The matter is scheduled to be taken up again after two weeks.

This development comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s previous warning to Patanjali Ayurved in November 2023, where the Court had reprimanded the company for similar misleading claims and advertisements against modern systems of medicine. The Court had warned of imposing a cost of Rs 1 Crore for each product regarding which false claims were made. Patanjali had then assured the Court that it would refrain from such advertisements, an assurance that has now been called into question.

(Information collected from LiveLaw)

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