Government ‘sitting with its eyes shut’, says Supreme Court as Patanjali’s misleading advertisement case drags on

Government ‘sitting with its eyes shut’, says Supreme Court as Patanjali’s misleading advertisement case drags on
Baba Ramdev after appearing before the Supreme Court in connection with the Patanjali misleading advertisements case in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
Tuesday, April 2: Exaggerated claims of unbelievable results with the use of consumer products are not new in the Indian advertisement industry. But, the law of the land does explicitly prohibit and punish misleading advertisements from time to time. One such case is grabbing headlines of late.

Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, co-founder and managing director of Patanjali, respectively, appeared before the Supreme Court today for a hearing regarding a case involving misleading advertisements. So, what exactly happened?

A case of false and misleading advertisements

The case began in November last year when the Supreme Court, responding to a petition by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), cautioned Patanjali Ayurved against airing "false" and "misleading" claims in its advertisements about medicinal products. The IMA cited several ads that allegedly portrayed allopathic medicine and doctors negatively, claiming that companies producing ayurvedic medicines made disparaging remarks to deceive the public.

Despite the Supreme Court's cautionary stance and prohibition on advertising products claiming to treat specific ailments under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, Ramdev and Balkrishna reportedly conducted a press conference, once again making misleading claims about Patanjali's ability to cure various conditions permanently.

Subsequently, on February 27, the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with Patanjali's continuous dissemination of false advertisements regarding medicinal cures and issued notices to the company, questioning why contempt proceedings should not be initiated. It also chastised the government for not taking action and “sitting with their eyes shut”.


On March 21, the Court summoned Baba Ramdev and Balkrishna to personally appear before it on April 2 to address their failure to respond to the contempt notice regarding misleading advertisements about medicinal cures.

What’s the latest update?

In today's hearing, the Supreme Court criticised Ramdev and Balkrishna for their "absolute defiance" in failing to submit proper affidavits of compliance and for disregarding legal directives. The Court also rebuked Patanjali's MD for describing the Drugs and Cosmetics (Magic Remedies) Act as "archaic".

Noting that Patanjali's advertisements are in the "teeth of law" of the land, the Court warned Ramdev to prepare for potential consequences.

Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, presiding over the bench, declined to acknowledge the apology extended by Patanjali last month. Subsequently, Ramdev's attorney, reportedly with folded hands, reiterated that both Ramdev and Balakrishna were extending a personal and unconditional apology before the court.

Finally, the Court has granted Ramdev and Balkrishna a final opportunity to file affidavits in one week and mandated their presence at the next hearing on April 10.