Patanjali Founders Apologize Unconditionally in Supreme Court Contempt Case

Patanjali's Baba Ramdev and MD Balkrishna tendered an unconditional apology before the Supreme Court in the contempt case over misleading medical ads.

In a significant development in the ongoing contempt case against Patanjali Ayurveda's co-founder Baba Ramdev and Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna, the duo has submitted an unconditional apology before the Supreme Court. This move comes following the Court's stern action against them over the publication of misleading medical advertisements, which breached a previous undertaking made before the Court.

The affidavit containing the apology was formally filed on a Saturday, and the matter is slated to be taken up by the Court tomorrow, April 10.

To provide context, the contempt case stems from a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association concerning Patanjali's advertisements that criticized allopathy and made bold claims about the ability to cure certain diseases. In response to the Court's admonition last November, Patanjali had committed to refraining from such advertisements.

However, on February 27, the Court observed that the misleading advertisements persisted, leading to the issuance of a contempt notice to both Patanjali and its MD. Furthermore, the Court had temporarily restrained Patanjali from advertising or branding products aimed at addressing specific diseases or disorders as specified in the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954.

In March, as no reply to the contempt notice was received, the Court sought the personal appearance of Patanjali's MD, as well as Baba Ramdev, who had prominently featured in the press conferences and advertisements following the Court's earlier undertaking.

Following this, the MD of Patanjali filed an affidavit asserting that the contentious advertisements were intended to convey only general statements but inadvertently included objectionable sentences. It was claimed that these advertisements were made in good faith and that Patanjali's media personnel were unaware of the Court's November order.

Additionally, the affidavit argued that the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act was outdated, given that it was enacted at a time when scientific evidence regarding Ayurvedic medicines was lacking.

During the last hearing, both Baba Ramdev and MD Balkrishna appeared in person before the Court. However, Baba Ramdev's affidavit was not submitted, prompting reservations from the Court regarding the adequacy of MD Balkrishna's affidavit. The Court described it as "perfunctory" and "mere lip service."

Consequently, the Court granted a final opportunity to the alleged contemnors to file a comprehensive affidavit addressing the concerns raised.

The submission of an unconditional apology by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna underscores a significant development in the contempt proceedings, setting the stage for further deliberation by the Supreme Court on this matter.