New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday told the Center to come up with a comprehensive mechanism to stop misleading advertisements making unverified claims to cure all kinds of ailments, even as it reprimanded yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his commercial arm Patanjali Ayurved Limited for maligning modern medicine. and discrediting its advocates.
A bench headed by Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah said, “This is a clear violation of the law what you (Patanjali) are doing. We will take it very seriously if you continue this and even impose costs to that extent 1 crown on each product.
The court was dealing with a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) seeking an injunction against all misleading advertisements claiming to have a cure for all ailments and discrediting doctors in the process by doubting the efficacy of allopathic medicines. The petition named Patanjali Ayurveda as one of the respondents citing an advertisement published in July last year in a leading newspaper, which alleged that the health benefits claimed by allopathy are nowhere to be seen and those who depend on it suffer hellish pains of adverse health effects .
The court said it did not intend to enter into the debate on whether allopathy is superior or Ayurveda and asked the Center to come out with a comprehensive solution to address all kinds of misleading claims.
We want to find a real solution to the problem of misleading advertisements that make false claims that it can cure a particular disease, said a bench headed by Justice PK Mishra. Posting the matter till February 5, the bench asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Nataraj to deal with the matter in a holistic manner where citizens are not misled by these false claims.
Also read: SC notice on Baba Ramdev’s plea to club FIRs over Covid-19 allopathy comments
Senior advocate Sajan Poovaiia appeared for Patanjali and said the petition tried to conceal many facts and made selective statements of the company and Baba Ramdev. In its order, the court recorded Poovaii’s statement that the company would not publish any misleading statement or make any incidental statement to the press on the issue raised before it in the petition.
The IMA in its petition reproduced a series of statements by the yoga guru which are patently false and accused him of running a concerted campaign to malign doctors and create doubts in people’s minds about allopathy.
Senior advocate PS Patwalia appearing for IMA along with advocate Prabhas Bajaj said, Patanjali claims to have a permanent solution to lifestyle disorders, incurable, chronic and genetic diseases, skin diseases, arthritis, cervical spondylitis, asthma among others which is violation of the law. The IMA claimed that such an unabated campaign of misinformation against allopathy continues with complete inaction and indifference on the part of government authorities.
Under the Medicines and Magic Medicines (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954, the publication of such advertisements is prohibited. Section 3 of the 1954 Act prohibits any advertisement which claims to be the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease including lifestyle diseases.
Patanjalis claimed that eradicating asthma was in direct violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules of 1945, the petition added.
The medical association told the Court that while every business entity, such as Patanjali Ayurved, has the right to promote its own products, the continuous, systematic and unabated spread of misinformation regarding allopathy should stop. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Baba Ramdev held a press conference in June 2020 announcing that his company had developed a cure for the Covid-19 pandemic. Later, the Center issued a notice asking Patanjali not to make such false claims.
At another public event in May 2021, during the height of the second wave of the pandemic, Ramdev called allopathy a stupid and bankrupt science and falsely claimed that more than 1,000 doctors had died after taking both doses of the vaccine.
The IMA has also registered criminal cases against Ramdev and Patanjali for his false claims in several states. Ramdev approached the Supreme Court in a special proceeding seeking consolidation of all criminal cases in one place. Besides, a defamation case filed by the IMA against Ramdev is pending before the Delhi high court.
Ramdev filed an affidavit in January this year before the high court pointing out that in June 2021 he hailed practitioners of modern medicine as God’s messengers and appealed to people to get vaccinated.
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