Supreme Court Issues Warning to Patanjali Ayurved Over Misleading Advertisements, Threatens Rs 1 Crore Penalty


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Published on: November 22, 2023 at 00:12 IST

The Supreme Court, sternly rebuked Patanjali Ayurved for persistently disseminating misleading claims and advertisements against modern medical practices.

The bench, led by Justices Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Prashant Kumar Mishra, issued a strong warning to the company co-founded by Baba Ramdev during the hearing of a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) against misleading advertisements.

The court explicitly directed Patanjali Ayurved to halt all false and misleading advertisements immediately.

Justice Amanullah emphasized the seriousness of the matter, stating that the court would consider imposing substantial penalties, amounting to Rs. 1 crore, for every product falsely claiming to cure a specific disease. This strong stance aims to curb the dissemination of misinformation through misleading advertisements.

In response to the court’s warning, Patanjali Ayurved’s legal counsel assured that the company would cease publishing such advertisements in the future. The court recorded this undertaking in its order, emphasizing the gravity of adhering to the directive.

The court clarified that its objective is not to fuel an “Allopathy v. Ayurveda” debate but to find effective solutions to the problem of misleading medical advertisements. During the hearing, the bench underscored its commitment to addressing the issue seriously and urged the Union Government to propose viable recommendations after consultations. The matter is scheduled for further consideration on February 5, 2024.

This development follows a notice issued last year by the Supreme Court on the IMA’s petition, where the court criticized Baba Ramdev for disparaging statements against modern medicine systems like Allopathy. The IMA’s petition raised concerns about the continuous spread of misinformation by Patanjali Ayurved regarding allopathy and the modern medical system.

The IMA’s plea highlighted a specific advertisement published by Patanjali Ayurved on July 10, 2022, which allegedly spread misconceptions about allopathy. The petition argued that such unverified claims violated existing laws, including the Drugs & Other Magic Remedies Act, 1954, and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

The IMA also pointed to instances where Swami Ramdev, associated with Patanjali, made controversial statements, including questioning the effectiveness of allopathy and making unfounded claims about deaths due to allopathic medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The petition accused Patanjali of contributing to vaccine hesitancy by spreading false rumors about COVID-19 vaccines.

Despite the Ministry of AYUSH signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to monitor misleading advertisements of AYUSH drugs, Patanjali allegedly continued to violate the law with impunity, as highlighted in the petition.

Case Title: INDIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION vs. UNION OF INDIA| W.P.(C) No. 000645 – / 2022

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