Supreme Court Rejects Patanjali’s Apology, Demands Compliance in Misleading Advertisement Case

Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has taken a firm stance against Patanjali Ayurved’s co-founders, Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, regarding the ongoing contempt proceedings related to misleading advertisements. The apex court found their “unconditional” apology to be insincere and has ordered them to submit new affidavits.

During the hearing, Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah expressed dissatisfaction with the apologies presented, stating they lacked the unconditional nature and sufficient regret expected after the company breached its commitment to not publish misleading product claims. The court emphasized that the founders could not deflect responsibility onto their officials and must personally uphold the solemn undertaking given to the court.

The bench remarked, “It is a violation of an undertaking given to the highest court of the land and it cannot be taken lightly. Your apology does not convince the court; it appears to be mere lip service. You must ensure adherence to your solemn undertaking. You have violated it with impunity.”

The court’s rebuke extended to the Central and Uttarakhand governments for their perceived leniency towards Patanjali’s legal infractions, including unsubstantiated claims of curing diseases like Covid-19.

The hearing saw the solicitor general intervene, offering to assist in drafting a proper affidavit, acknowledging that the conduct of Ramdev and Balkrishna was unacceptable.

The proceedings stem from a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which has accused Patanjali of a decade-long misinformation campaign through misleading advertisements, potentially ending with the Supreme Court’s intervention. The IMA’s allegations include disparaging allopathic medicine and making unverified claims about the efficacy of Patanjali’s products.

Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna

The Supreme Court has scheduled the next hearing for April 10, where Ramdev and Balkrishna are expected to present affidavits that comply with the court’s directives⁶⁷⁸. The case highlights the judiciary’s active role in curbing misleading advertisements and ensuring corporate accountability.