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Supreme Court Grills Patanjali Over Size of Apology in Papers

"Is the apology the same size as your advertisements?" Justice Hima Kohli asked Patanjali's lawyers.
Ramdev. Photo: Facebook/Patanjali Products

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday (April 23) raised questions regarding the size and sincerity of the public apologies issued by Patanjali Ayurved.

The apex court is currently deliberating a contempt case against the company, its managing director Acharya Balkrishna and co-founder Baba Ramdev for disseminating misleading medical advertisements in violation of a previous undertaking made to the court, LiveLaw reported

Patanjali had published apologies in some newspapers on Monday acknowledging their mistake of pushing misleading advertisements despite assurances given to the Supreme Court last November.

Patanjali’s lawyer Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi informed the bench about the advertisements according to the report.

However, the bench, chaired by Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, questioned the authenticity of these apologies. “Is the apology the same size as your advertisements?” Justice Kohli asked.

On being told that the apology had appeared in 67 newspapers and that it costs “tens of lakhs”, Justice Kohlis asked, “Does it cost the same tens of lakhs of rupees for the full-page advertisements you published? We are wondering.”

The bench also reprimanded Patanjali’s lawyers for not producing a copy of the apology published by them, the report said.

“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.

The Supreme Court also signalled its intent to address the broader issue of misleading health claims made by fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have been roped in as parties to the case, LiveLaw reported

Additionally, the Union Government has been called upon to clarify a letter issued by the AYUSH Ministry, instructing states to refrain from taking action against the advertisement of AYUSH products.

Furthermore, the court directed the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to join the proceedings following allegations of unethical conduct by some of its members and said that it needs to put its “house in order”.

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