Patanjali Case: SC Steps Up Focus On ‘Misleading’ Ads By Other FMCG Firms


Broadening the scope of the case regarding “misleading” advertisements related to Patanjali Ayurved, the Supreme Court has taken a stern view of such practices by various FMCG companies. The Court has asked three Union ministries to provide information about their efforts to curb these practices.

On Tuesday, as per reports, the Court emphasised that matters relating to the implementation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act require closer scrutiny and that this should not only focus on the respondents but also on other fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs), who are many times observed to be spreading “misleading” advertisements that deceive the public.

According to the reports, the court said, “Particular affecting health of babies and children, elderly, who have been consuming medicines after the misleading ads…This court is of the opinion that along with misleading ads issued in print and electronic media, it is necessary to implead: consumer affairs’, information and broadcasting, IT ministries to see the violations of the Drugs and Magic Remedies act, Drugs and Cosmetics Act and the Consumer Protection Act.”

Moreover, the Supreme Court urged the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to put its house in order to address unethical practices in modern medicine and hospitals like prescribing expensive medicines which are unnecessary.

A bench consisting of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah expressed concerns regarding the above matter.

The Court said, “The petitioner (IMA) needs to put its own house in order regarding alleged unethical acts of the petitioner organisation where medicines are prescribed which are expensive and unnecessary. Whenever there is misuse of the position by the petitioner association to prescribe expensive medicines, the line of treatment needs closer examination.”

Surprisingly, the remark came during a hearing a plea by IMA against an alleged “smear campaign” carried out by Patanjali and its founders, Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, against the COVID-19 vaccination drive and modern medicine. In recent hearings, the Court strongly criticised Patanjali, along with its founders, for making “misleading” claims about Patanjali’s medicines.

The Bench also acknowledged an intervention application seeking the imposition of costs on the IMA.

Justice Kohli said, “There is an intervention which wants us to impose Rs 1,000 crore on IMA as costs for filing this complaint. Looks like a proxy plea on your behalf, Rohatgi.”

To which, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Patanjali, replied, “I have nothing to do with this.”

“We are very curious about the timing of the application.. Looks like an interloper and not an intervention,” the Court stated.

The Court indicated that it would also look into specific allegations against the IMA concerning unnecessary medical prescriptions.

The Supreme Court also stated that the apologies published by Patanjali Ayurved in newspapers for “misleading” advertisements should be large and easily noticeable, as per reports.

Following Patanjali’s printed apologies in 67 newspapers to express regret for their actions, the Court questioned whether these apologies were prominent in size to be easily noticed.

Justice Kohli asked, “Was it of the same size as your earlier ads?”

Rohatgi replied, “No milord .. It costs a lot.. Lakhs of rupees.”

The Court ordered Patanjali to submit printed copies of the apologies to examine their size.

Justice Kohli stated, “Please cut out the ads and then supply it to us. Do not enlarge them and supply it to us. We want to see the actual size. This is our direction… We want to see that when you issue an (apology) ad, it does not mean we have to see it by a microscope. It is not meant to be on papers, but also read.”

This aspect was included in today’s interim court order as well.

The Court recorded, “Counsel for proposed contemnors (Patanjali, Ramdev, Balkrishna) submit that apology was published in newspapers only yesterday which is an unqualified apology. The said ads are not on record. The same has been collated and will be supplied during the day and needful shall be done to supply it to the petitioners.”

Earlier, the Court pulled up Patanjali Ayurved after discovering that their ads were “misleading” and “derogatory” to modern medicine.

Following this, Patanjali, Ramdev, and Balkrishna were also criticised for the casual nature of their apology affidavits filed before the Court.

At the previous court session, the judge spoke with Ramdev and Balkrishna to assess the sincerity of their apologies. However, the judge emphasised that they still not off the hook. They had assured the Court, via their lawyer, that they would willingly take actions to demonstrate the sincerity of their apology.

In today’s court order, it was acknowledged that Patanjali requested to release more advertisements to express its sincere apology for its lapses.


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