Which Patanjali or Divya Pharmacy Products Are Under Legal Scrutiny for Objectionable Ads?

Supreme Court rejects Patanjali's defense citing Bombay HC's stay on Drug Rules, emphasizing violation of Advertisements Act 1954. Contempt proceedings continue.

The legal saga surrounding Patanjali Ayurved and its subsidiary Divya Pharmacy continues to unfold, with the Supreme Court of India taking a stern stance against the alleged misleading advertisements of certain products. In an affidavit filed by the Joint Director/State Licensing Authority of Ayurvedic and Unani Services, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, specific products came under legal scrutiny. Notably, products such as 'Divya Madhunashini Vati' and 'Divya Madhugrit Tablet,' which are advertised for treating diabetes, along with 'Lipidom,' 'Livogrit,' and 'Livamrit,' faced scrutiny.

The affidavit highlighted the response from Patanjali and Divya Pharmacy, citing an interim order passed by the Bombay High Court in 2019. This order stayed the application of Rule 170 of the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, 1945, which prohibits advertisements of Ayurvedic drugs. The affidavit noted that despite multiple notices sent by the State Authorities, Patanjali and Divya Pharmacy consistently cited the Bombay High Court's order as a defense.

However, the Supreme Court refused to accept this explanation. The Court emphasized that the conduct of the alleged contemnors contradicted the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. It clarified that the stay order pertained to regulations under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940 and not the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. The Court criticized the State Licensing Authority for issuing warnings instead of taking legal action as mandated by the law.

In its observations, the Court expressed concern that the authority would have continued to neglect its duties under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act if the Court had not intervened. The Act prohibits the publication of advertisements claiming to cure ailments specified in its schedule, which includes diabetes, blood pressure, vision problems, obesity, heart problems, sexual impotency, and venereal diseases.

The contempt proceedings against Patanjali Ayurveda stem from its alleged violation of a Court undertaking regarding misleading advertisements. Despite filing affidavits of apology, the Court rejected them and refused to accept the apology from Baba Ramdev, the co-founder of Patanjali. Furthermore, the Court directed the former Joint Director of the State Licensing Authority and other officials to file affidavits explaining their inaction regarding the matter.

In a previous order, the Supreme Court restrained Patanjali from advertising or branding products meant to cure ailments specified in the 1954 Act and 1955 Rules. The Court is set to continue hearing the matter on April 16.