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SC reprimands IMA president; advises him to publish apology in newspapers

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its judgement against yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his aide Acharya Balkrishna in the misleading ads case.

During the hearing, Ramdev and Balkrishna’s counsel sought time to file an affidavit to show the steps taken by them to recall the medicines and drugs under challenge. The apex court has directed them to file the affidavit within three weeks.

The top court acknowledged Ramdev’s contribution to yoga and Ayurveda but noted that Patanjali’s products are a different ballgame altogether.

Its aim is only that people remain alert, the bench said, adding that people have faith in Ramdev and he should use them positively.

The Supreme Court bench also reprimanded IMA President Dr. Ashokan for his comments against the court in this matter. Last month, Ashokan stated that it was “unfortunate” that the Supreme Court criticised the association as well as some of the practices of private doctors.

In response, the IMA president unconditionally apologised to the court.

“You are the President of the IMA; 3.50 lakh doctors are its members. What kind of impression do you want to leave on people? Why didn’t you apologise in public? Why didn’t you print your apology on the paper?” the bench said.

The court said that Dr Ashokan’s apology will be treated in the same way the court treated Patanjali’s apology when it failed to abide by its undertaking given to the court.

The court said that you can’t say anything about the court sitting on your couch. “This is very unfortunate,” it remarked.

Appearing for Dr Ashokan, Senior Advocate PS Patwalia asked for another opportunity to make good on its actions.

The court also came down heavily on all the state licensing authorities and said that they should “stop sitting in the comfort of their offices”.

It directed the licensing authorities to file affidavits detailing the actions taken by them on complaints against misleading ads, along with the suo moto actions taken by them.

The case has been posted for a further hearing on July 9.

The story so far
The case began in November last year, when the apex court issued a stern warning to Ramdev and his multinational conglomerate for downplaying the effects of modern medicine.

Some of Patanjali’s commercials claimed its medicines could cure a number of illnesses, while simultaneously disparaging allopathic and modern medicine.

The court had said that it would issue a hefty penalty for all those misleading advertisements that promise to cure diseases such as asthma, obesity, and the like.

At the time, Patanjali told the court that it would make sure that going forward, no casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy against any system of medicine would be released to the media in any form.

However, a day after the court’s stern remarks, Patanjali came out with a media statement saying that it was not making any “false advertisements or propaganda” regarding its products and that it would not object if the top court were to impose a fine or “even give us a death sentence” if found making misleading claims.

This prompted the apex court to come down on Acharya Balkrishna and Baba Ramdev with all guns blazing for openly flouting court orders.

The entire fiasco has also led the court to reprimand the centre and the Uttarakhand state licencing authority for their inaction on the wider issue of misleading advertisements for drugs and medicines. NDTV Profit

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