SC cautions Patanjali against making ‘false’ claims advertisements

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 21, asked Patanjali Ayurved to immediately stop publishing misleading claims and advertisements against modern systems of medicine, warning of a hefty fine if it does not.

the bench of Justices Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Prashant Kumar Mishra was considering a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association against misleading advertisements.

“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 crore on every product regarding which a false claim is made that it can ‘cure’ a particular disease,” Justice Amanullah orally said.

The court directed Patanjali Ayurved not to publish any such advertisements in the future and to ensure that casual statements are not made to the media.

The bench said the issue was not “allopathy vs ayurveda” but to find a real solution to the problem of misleading medical advertisements.

The bench told additional solicitor general K.M. Nataraj, appearing for the Union Government, to find a “viable solution” for the problem and come up with suitable recommendations after consultations. The matter will be considered again on February 5, 2024.

The petition was filed in mid-2022 after Patanjali published an advertisement in July that the IMA said sought to “promote traditional medicine by disparaging allopathy” and a “continuous, systematic, and unabated spread of misinformation” regarding allopathy. Last year, issuing notice, the court pulled up Baba Ramdev.

“What happened to Baba Ramdev? He can popularise his system, but why should he criticise other systems. We all respect him, he popularised yoga but he shouldn’t criticise other systems. What is the guarantee that his system will work? He cannot refuse doctor system. He must exercise restraint in abusing other systems,” said then Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana.

The IMA petition says even though the Ministry of AYUSH has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for monitoring misleading advertisements of AYUSH drugs, Patanjali has continued its “disregard for the law, violating the mandate with impunity.”

In a separate case, the Delhi high court last year told Baba Ramdev not to “mislead” people against allopathy and not to make any claims beyond what authorities had stated about Patanjali’s product Coronil. The court took exception to Patanjali advertising it as a “cure” for COVID-19.

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