Ramdev's Apology In Newspapers In Misleading Ads Case, Second In Two Days

Patanjali put out an apology yesterday too, but the court had asked if its size was as big as the misleading ads of its drugs.

Ramdev's Apology In Newspapers In Misleading Ads Case, Second In Two Days

The court has come down heavily on Ramdev for his remarks on modern medicine

New Delhi:

Yoga guru Ramdev and his aide Balkrishna put out a public apology in newspapers today for not complying with the Supreme Court's directions in the misleading ads case against Patanjali Ayurved Limited. Patanjali put out an apology yesterday too, but the court had asked if its size was as big as the misleading ads of its drugs.

The ad published this morning covers one-fourth of a newspaper page and is titled "Unconditional Public Apology". "In wake of ongoing matter before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India (Writ Petition C. No. 645/2022), we in our individual capacity as well as on behalf of the Company, unconditionally apologise for the non-compliance or disobedience of directions/ orders of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India," it read.

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The apology published in newspapers today

"We unconditionally extend the apology for holding meeting/press conference dated 22.11.2023. We earnestly apologize for the mistake made in publishing our advertisements and it is our whole- hearted commitment that such errors will not be repeated. We undertake to abide by directions and instructions of the Hon'ble Court with due care and utmost sincerity. We undertake to uphold the majesty of the court and comply with applicable laws and directions of the Hon'ble Court of law/relevant authorities. Sincerely, Patanjali Ayurved Limited, Acharya Balkrishna, Swami Ramdev, Haridwar, Uttarakhand," the note added.

The ad published yesterday was smaller and did not specifically mention the names of Ramdev and Balkrishna.

Hearing the matter yesterday, the bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice A Amanullah had asked if the apology had been published prominently. "Has the apology been published prominently? Same font and size as your earlier advertisements?" Justice Kohli had asked.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ramdev and Balkrishna, told the court that the apology was published in 67 newspapers at a cost of Rs 10 lakh, but the court was firm. "Please cut out the ads and then supply it to us. Do not enlarge them and supply it to us. We want to see the actual size. This is our direction... we want to see that when you issue an ad, it does not mean we have to see it by a microscope," Justice Kohli said.

The matter will be heard next on April 30 and Ramdev and Balkrishna have been asked to appear in court.

What Is The Case

The matter dates back to the Covid years, when Patanjali launched a drug, Coronil, in 2021 and Ramdev described it as the "first evidence-based medicine for COVID-19". Patanjali also claimed that Coronil had certification from the World Health Organization, but the Indian Medical Association called this a "blatant lie".

The face-off between the medical body and Patanjali escalated after a video of Ramdev, in which he was heard saying that allopathy was a "stupid and bankrupt science", went viral. The IMA sent a legal notice to Ramdev and sought an apology. Patanjali Yogpeeth responded that Ramdev was reading out from a forwarded WhatsApp message and has no ill-will against modern science.

In August 2022, IMA moved a petition against Patanjali after it published an advertisement in newspapers titled 'Misconceptions Spread By Allopathy: Save Yourself And The Country From The Misconceptions Spread By Pharma And Medical Industry'. The ad claimed that Patanjali drugs had cured people of diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid, liver cirrhosis, arthritis and asthma.

The doctors' body said the "continuous, systematic, and unabated spread of misinformation" comes alongside Patanjali's efforts to make false claims about curing certain diseases through use of Patanjali products.

On November 21 last year, the Supreme Court warned Patanjali against such claims and threatened to slap heavy fines.

Patanjali's counsel, court documents say, then assured that "henceforth, there shall not be any violation of any of the laws, especially relating to advertisement and branding of products".

On January 15 this year, the Supreme Court received an anonymous letter addressed to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud with copies marked to Justice Kohli and Justice Amanullah. The letter mentioned misleading advertisements Patanjali continued to put out. IMA's counsel, Senior Advocate PS Patwalia, also showed the court newspaper advertisements after the November 21, 2023 warning and transcript of a press conference by Ramdev and Balkrishna after the court's hearing.

The court then sought a reply from Patanjali on why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it.

On March 19, the court was told that Patanjali had not filed the reply to the contempt notice. It then asked Ramdev and Balkrishna to appear in person. The court came down heavily on Ramdev and Balkrishna in its April 2 hearing for their "absolute defiance" over not filing proper affidavits over the misleading advertisements. The apologies that followed were rejected on April 10 after the Supreme Court that they were sent to the media first.

The court noted that their apologies were "not heartfelt" and "more of a lip service". In a hearing on April 16, the two were asked to demonstrate their intent to apologise.