Misleading ads: Was apology as big as newspaper advertisements, SC asks Patanjali

Yoga guru Ramdev arrives at the Supreme Court for hearing on the Patanjali misleading advertisements case. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned Yoga guru Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved Ltd managing director Balkrishna whether their apology was as big as the company's newspaper advertisements.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah asked company's counsel to place the apology published in newspapers on record within two days.

The counsel assured the bench that additional advertisements would be issued tendering an unqualified apology for the lapses on their part. The bench has posted the matter for hearing on April 30.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the duo, said the two have on Monday published the apology in 67 newspapers across the nation.  "Is the apology the same size as your advertisements? Does it cost the same tens of lakhs of rupees for the full-page advertisements you published? We are wondering," Justice Kohli asked.

"Cut the actual newspaper clippings and keep them handy. For you to photocopy by enlarging, it may not impress us. We want to see the actual size of the ad. When you issue an apology, it does not mean that we have to see it by a microscope," Justice Kohli said.

On April 16, the apex court had warned Ramdev and Balkrishna against any attempt to "degrade allopathy" and permitted them to tender a "public apology and show contrition" within a week in the contempt proceedings in the misleading advertisements case against Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. The court, however, had made it clear that it was not letting them "off the hook" yet.

The bench also expressed its intention to explore the larger issue of misleading health claims made by FMCG companies and impleaded the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as parties to the case. It also sought an explanation from the Union Government regarding a letter issued by the AYUSH Ministry asking States to refrain from taking action against the advertisement of AYUSH products as per Rule 170 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

The apex court is hearing a plea filed in 2022 by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) alleging a smear campaign against the COVID-19 vaccination drive and modern systems of medicine.
(with Live Law and PTI inputs)

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