Supreme Court Rejects Ramdev’s Apology, Questions Uttarakhand’s Action on Patanjali Advertisements

Feature and Cover Supreme Court Rejects Ramdev's Apology Questions Uttarakhand's Action on Patanjali Advertisements

The Supreme Court declared on Wednesday its refusal to accept the “unconditional and unqualified” apologies tendered by Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna. This apology came in response to contempt of court notices issued by the court, following a lawsuit by the Indian Medical Association (IMA). The IMA accused them of publishing misleading advertisements, claiming cures for certain diseases, and criticizing the allopathy branch of medicine.

A bench consisting of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah had previously expressed dissatisfaction with the apology affidavits submitted by Ramdev and Balkrishna. They were given an opportunity to provide better responses to the show cause notices. These notices were issued due to alleged violations of an undertaking given to the court on November 21, 2023, pledging not to make “casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy or against any system of medicine”.

The court expressed displeasure over a press conference held by Ramdev on November 22, 2023, in Haridwar, and an advertisement released by the company on December 4, 2023, which were seen as violations of the undertaking made on November 21, 2023.

Subsequently, fresh affidavits were filed on April 6, offering unqualified and unconditional apologies. However, Justice Kohli stated, “We do not accept these affidavits. We decline to accept or condone it. We consider it a wilful and deliberate violation of the order.” The court criticized the respondents’ actions as a deliberate breach of the undertaking, despite repeatedly emphasizing their apologies in the affidavits.

In its order, the court remarked, “Having regard to the entire history of the matter, and the past conduct of the respondents, we have expressed our reservations about accepting the latest affidavit filed by them.” The bench scheduled another hearing for April 16.

The court also found fault with an application submitted by the duo during the previous hearing, seeking exemption from appearing in court due to international travel. It was noted that the affidavits were sworn a day before the air tickets were issued, leading the court to believe the respondents were attempting to avoid personal appearance.

The court stated, “It is now been stated in the affidavit filed by the proposed contemnors that admittedly the tickets were issued on a date after the affidavit was sworn…Fact remains that on the date, the affidavits were shown, there was no such ticket in existence (at the time the affidavits were sworn). And therefore, the assumption is the respondents were trying to wriggle out of their personal appearance before this court, which is most acceptable.”

Furthermore, the court reprimanded the state of Uttarakhand for failing to take action against Patanjali and its subsidiary Divya Pharmacy for advertisements promising cures for diseases. The court requested affidavits from officials who had held the post of Joint Director of the State Licensing Authority in Haridwar between 2018 and the present, to explain their actions to address this issue.

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