SC warns Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali of publishing misleading ads

Responding to Indian Medical Association's plea, SC warns of imposing Rs 1 crore on every Patanjali product claiming to “cure” a particular disease

Supreme Court warns Patanjali against false health claims (photo: National Herald archives)
Supreme Court warns Patanjali against false health claims (photo: National Herald archives)

NH Digital

The Supreme Court on Tuesday warned Patanjali Ayurved, a company co-founded by Baba Ramdev, against making false and misleading claims in their advertisements about its products as “cures” for certain ailments and said court would consider fining the company Rs 1 crore per product.

The bench comprising Justices Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Prashant Kumar Mishra was considering a plea filed by the Indian Medical Association against misleading advertisements broadcasted by Patanjali Ayurved. The bench will now take up the case for hearing on 5 February, next year.

“All such false and misleading advertisements of Patanjali Ayurved have to stop immediately. The Court will take any such infraction seriously, and the Court will also consider imposing costs to the extent of Rs 1 crore on every product regarding which a false claim is made that it can “cure” a particular disease,” Justice Amanullah orally said.

The top court, on 23 August 2022, had issued notices to the Union health ministry and Ministry of Ayush and Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, on the plea of the IMA alleging a smear campaign by Ramdev against the vaccination drive and modern medicines.

The counsel appearing for the Centre was asked to find a remedy to the issue of misleading medical advertisements where claims are being made about medicines that offer perfect cures for certain diseases.

While issuing the notices on the plea, came down heavily on Ramdev for criticising allopathy and allopathic practitioners, saying he needed to be restrained from abusing the doctors and other systems of treatment.

The counsel for Patanjali Ayurved assured that they would not publish such advertisements in the future, and ensured that casual statements would not be made to the press. The undertaking was recorded by the Court in its order.

The bench observed during the hearing that it did not wish to make the issue an "Allopathy v. Ayurveda" debate but wanted to find a real solution to the problem of misleading medical advertisements.

The writ petition filed by the IMA raised concerns about what they term as a "continuous, systematic, and unabated spread of misinformation" regarding evidence-based medicine and the modern system of medicine. The petition pointed out that Patanjali's misleading advertisements disparage modern medicine and make false claims about curing certain diseases.

The plea referred to a half-page advertisement published on July 10, 2022, titled “Misconceptions spread by allopathy: save yourself and the country from the misconceptions spread by pharma and medical industry”.

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