Patanjali's false claims lands it in a trouble with Supreme Court

Patanjali's false claims lands it in a trouble with Supreme Court
Patanjali's false claims lands it in a trouble with Supreme Court

by Tanushree Jaiswal Last Updated: Feb 29, 2024 - 08:13 am 341 Views
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In the grand saga of health and wellness in India, enter Baba Ramdev, the face behind the wellness empire Patanjali. His online videos claim to offer cures that, according to him, modern science hasn't quite figured out.
You might have stumbled upon those videos where he confidently asserts, "jad se bimari ko khatam kardene vala ilaj" (a remedy that eliminates diseases from their root)

While Baba Ramdev can freely make any claims that want, his brainchild and million dollar company, Patanjali can’t.

Recently, the shares of Patanjali Foods fell by 4% on the National Stock Exchange (NSE). The trigger? The Supreme Court of India issued notices to Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, questioning their actions and contemplating contempt proceedings for allegedly violating court orders. 

The court questioned why contempt proceedings shouldn't be initiated against them for violating its orders. Subsequently, Patanjali Ayurved was restrained from advertising and marketing products claiming to cure ailments-disorders until further notice.

This legal saga didn't stop at restraining orders. The apex court also barred Patanjali from promoting products that purportedly cure diseases like heart ailments and asthma. This stern ruling followed evidence presented by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), showcasing a Patanjali advertisement and a press conference where the company claimed miraculous cures for sugar and asthma through the practice of yoga.

The root cause of this legal uproar lies in evidence presented by the Indian Medical Association (IMA). Their submissions included a Patanjali advertisement featured in The Hindu newspaper and a press conference where the company claimed to have successfully treated sugar and asthma using yoga.

The Supreme Court, in a two-judge bench, did not mince words. It issued a show-cause notice, effectively banning Patanjali Ayurved from advertising any product claiming to cure diseases. The court not only criticized Patanjali but also directed its disapproval towards the central government. The bench, in strong words, observed that while the "entire country is being taken for a ride," the government has been "sitting with its eyes closed." It urged the government to file an affidavit explaining the steps taken to address misleading advertisements.

The apex court warned Patanjali to cease making false and misleading claims in advertisements about its medicines, emphasizing that each claim could incur a penalty of Rs 1 crore ($120,000). The court's stance was crystal clear — all false and misleading advertisements of Patanjali Ayurved must stop immediately.

“All such false and misleading advertisements of Patanjali Ayurved have to stop immediately. The Court will take any such infraction very seriously, and the Court will also consider imposing costs to the extent of Rs. 1 crores on every product regarding which a false claim is made that it can 'cure' a particular disease,” Justice Amanullah orally said.

It's noteworthy that the court aimed to avoid turning the case into an "Allopathy vs Ayurveda" debate. Instead, it sought to address the core issue — misleading medical advertisements. The bench requested the Government of India (GOI) to provide suitable recommendations after consultations.

This incident is not the first time Baba Ramdev has faced scrutiny for his comments and his company's advertising policies. In May 2021, Ramdev openly criticized allopathic medicines' role in treating COVID-19, suggesting that more people died from allopathic treatment than from oxygen shortage or the virus itself. The IMA promptly served him a defamation notice for his remarks and demanded an apology.

“Allopathy is a stupid and bankrupt science. First Chloroquine failed, then Remdesivir failed, then their antibiotics failed, then steroids, now a ban has been imposed on plasma therapy. Now they are prescribing Fabiflu which too has failed,” said Baba Ramdev.

Ramdev's critique extended to calling allopathy a "stupid and bankrupt science." He questioned the efficacy of various treatments, including Chloroquine, Remdesivir, antibiotics, steroids, and plasma therapy. Such statements drew criticism from the then Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, who advised Ramdev to exercise restraint and refrain from criticizing other medical systems.

Baba Ramdev, a prominent figure in India, co-founded Patanjali alongside his aide Balkrishna in 2006. Since then, the company has transformed into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. However, Patanjali's recent run-ins with the Supreme Court highlight the need for responsible advertising and caution against making unverified claims in the sensitive field of healthcare.

As legal proceedings unfold, it remains to be seen how this episode will impact Patanjali's standing in the market and the public's perception of Baba Ramdev's brand of Ayurveda. The clash between traditional practices and modern scrutiny underscores the delicate balance between promoting cultural heritage and adhering to ethical standards, especially in an industry as sensitive as healthcare.

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About the Author

Tanushree is a seasoned professional with 6 years of experience in the Fintech and Edtech industry.


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