SC issues contempt notice to Patanjali Ayurveda over ‘misleading’ ads

Patanjali Ayurveda and its managing director, Acharya Balkrishna, were served with a contempt of court notice by the Supreme Court on Tuesday for allegedly disobeying an agreement made with the court to refrain from promoting its medications and to stop making "casual statements" disparaging "any system of medicine."

The corporation was also prohibited from promoting or branding its products that are intended to treat diseases or ailments as specified under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act 1954 and its implementing regulations by a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahnasuddin Amanullah.

Further, the court "cautioned…the respondent and its officers…from making any statements adverse to any system of medicine in the media (both print and electronic) in any form as undertaken by them on the last date".

The judgment followed a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association accusing Patanjali of conducting a disinformation campaign against modern medicine and vaccinations.

Patanjali recieves SC notice

About the case

A bench led by Justice Amanullah recorded a statement from Patanjali's attorney on November 21, 2023, stating that the company "is bound down to such assurance" and that "henceforth there shall not be any violation of any law(s), especially relating to advertising or branding of products manufactured and marketed by it and, further, that no casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy or against any system of medicine will be released to the media in any form."

Senior lawyer PS Patwalia, representing the IMA, told the court on Tuesday that the corporation continued to disseminate advertising touting the efficacy of its medicines, which was prohibited by the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertising) Act.

Hearing of the case

While hearing the case in the morning, Justice Amanullan was enraged and inquired how the company could make such allegations. He also stated that the court might need to issue a stinging order, postponing the case until the afternoon.

Hearing it in the afternoon, Justice Amanullah inquired about the Ayush ministry's response since the petition was filed two years ago. Everybody in the nation has been duped! For two years, you wait when the Drugs Act states that this is prohibited?"

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor-General KM Nataraj stated that the government would file a detailed response since it needed to collaborate with several departments to verify the claims.

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