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Patanjali misleading ads case: ‘Your doctors endorse allopathic medicines, why should we not turn the beam at you?’ SC seeks explanation from IMA

During the hearing when Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi informed the court about the printed apology by Patanjali in 67 publications, the court asked if the size of the apology was the same as that of the advertisement.

On 23rd April, the Supreme Court of India questioned the Indian Medical Association (IMA) over the endorsement of medicines in the allopathic field provided by doctors associated with the association. The apex court was hearing the case of Patanjali’s misleading Ads where IMA is the complainant. Supreme Court noted that while IMA filed a case against Patanjali for misleading ads, its doctors themselves endorse allopathic medicines.

Supreme Court unhappy with the size of printed apology

During the hearing when Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi informed the court about the printed apology by Patanjali in 67 publications, the court asked if the size of the apology was the same as that of the advertisement. Rohtagi informed the court that it was a smaller one otherwise it would have cost tens of lakhs. The bench asked Rohtagi to submit cuttings of the apology published without enlarging them as the court wanted to see the actual size.

In its apology, Patanjali said, “Patanjali Ayurved fully respects the dignity of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. We sincerely apologize for the mistake of publishing advertisements and holding a press conference even after our advocates made a statement in the apex court. We are committed to not let such a mistake be repeated ever in the future. We reassure you that we shall remain committed to uphold the constitution and the dignity of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”

In its order, the court said that the apology was published only a day before the hearing and deemed it as “unqualified” as it was not on record. The court gave two days to Patanjali’s lawyers to submit the cuttings of the printed apology.

Court questions Indian Medical Association for endorsing allopathic medicines

During the hearing, the Supreme Court expressed displeasure over the fact that while the Indian Medical Association filed a complaint against Patanjali for misleading ads, the doctors associated with the association endorse medicines of the allopathic field. The court said, “while petitioners are pointing fingers at respondents, four fingers are pointing at them. your doctors are also endorsing medicines in allopathic field. If that’s happening, why should we not turn the beam at you?”

Senior Advocate Patwalia appearing for IMA said the association would look into it, to which Justice Kohli replied, “We can’t let the public be taken for a ride. There are children and babies involved!” The court said, “Petitioner also needs to put its house in order. There are several complaints with regard to alleged unethical conduct of IMA. Wherever there is misuse of their position in recommending highly expensive medicines, extraneous medicines for valuable consideration.”

‘We have to look at broader picture’

Supreme Court said that it was not a matter of one FMCG and the court has to look at the broader picture. Justice Kohli told ASG KM Nataraj appearing for the Union Government to reply the seven issues raised by the apex court. In the order, the court said once additional ads by Patanjali issuing unconditional apology are submitted in the court, the issue related to the implementation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act needs a closer examination.

The court said the matter is not limited to Patanjali but covers all FMGCs that publish misleading ads taking public for a ride, in particular, affecting health of babies, school going children and senior citizens who have been consuming their products.” Furthermore, the court said the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and other departments needed to examine the steps taken by the Ministries to prevent abuse of Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, etc.

The matter related to additional ads by Patanjali will be heard on 30th April and the matter in larger issue has been listed for 7th May.

The case against Patanjali Ayurved

The case against Patanjali Ayurved originated from a plea filed by Indian Medical Association in August 2022. The association was triggered by an ad that sparked controversy by questioning allopathic medicine’s efficacy. The IMA accused Patanjali of contributing to vaccine hesitancy and spreading misinformation about the efficacy of its products.

During hearing, Justice Amanullah cautionined Patanjali against making false claims about curing diseases and warned about imposing fines for such claims. However, despite court orders, Patanjali allegedly continued false advertising, leading to contempt notices and a ban on their medicinal product advertisements. As Patanjali allegedly failed to comply with the orders, it prompted criticism from the court for their inadequate apologies and demanding a comprehensive explanation for their actions. OpIndia’s detailed report on the matter can be checked here.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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