Supreme Court Engages in Dialogue with Patanjali's Ramdev and Balakrishna Over Contempt Proceedings

Supreme Court questions Patanjali's Ramdev & Balakrishna over contempt charges. Dialogue ensues on misleading ads. Apology pending approval. Next hearing set for April 23.

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday (April 16), engaged in a dialogue with Patanjali Ayurved's Managing Director (MD) Acharya Balakrishna and co-founder Baba Ramdev concerning contempt proceedings initiated against them for publishing misleading medical advertisements despite assurances given to the Court in November last year.

The bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah queried them regarding press conferences and advertisements published subsequent to the undertaking. Notably, when Baba Ramdev apologized, the Bench clarified that the Court had not accepted the apology yet. It also emphasized that their previous history cannot be disregarded. "We will think about it (the apology). We are making it clear. We will think about it because we cannot unsee your previous history," Justice Kohli firmly stated.

In the affidavit submitted by Patanjali's MD, it was stated that the impugned advertisements were meant to contain only general statements but inadvertently included offending sentences. It was outlined that the advertisements were bona fide and that Patanjali's media personnel were not "cognizant" of the November order.

Justice Kohli unequivocally stated that ignorance of the Court's order could not be pleaded, especially considering the Company's worth and established legal department. She stressed that now, since both parties are personally present before the Court and aware of the proceedings, the same plea cannot be taken in the future.

During the interaction, the Court also rebuked the duo for insulting allopathy, urging them to focus on their work without disparaging others.

Last week, on April 10, the Court declined to accept the apology affidavit submitted by Baba Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved. At the current hearing, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Patanjali, expressed readiness for a public apology. Following this, the Bench requested Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishna to appear before the Court.

At the beginning of the interaction, Justice Kohli acknowledged their contributions to yoga and business endeavors but questioned whether their actions were sufficient despite the Court's orders. In response, Baba Ramdev pleaded an unconditional apology for any mistakes committed.

However, Justice Kohli emphasized the need to understand their actions post the Court's order. She questioned the decision to hold a press conference and publish advertisements immediately after the Court's ruling.

Justice Kohli highlighted the legal restrictions on advertising medicines for incurable diseases and the responsibility that comes with their influence. She underscored that their actions were irresponsible, especially given their influence over millions of people.

When Baba Ramdev apologized again, the Court clarified that their apology was yet to be accepted, citing their previous history.

Justice Amanullah intervened during Balakrishna's attempt to justify their actions, stating that it indicated a lack of change of heart. He emphasized the need for genuine remorse.

Ultimately, Baba Ramdev expressed a desire to apologize sincerely for their mistakes.

Subsequently, the Court instructed both parties to take their seats while it dictated the order. The Court recorded Rohatgi's submission regarding the proposed steps for redemption and scheduled further hearings for April 23rd.