The Supreme Court today ordered the personal appearance of Baba Ramdev in Court after impleading him as an additional party to the pending proceeding relating to advertisements by Patanjali Ayurveda, allegedly in violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.

During the hearing, Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah who is sharing the Bench with Justice Hima Kholi referred to something that he saw on Aaj Tak Television Channel on the issue on the same day the Court passed an order in the matter last month. However, the Judge did not elaborate further on the same. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Patanjali Ayurveda requested the Court record the same in the order, since, according to him, nothing has happened after the last hearing that could prompt the Court to order the personal appearance of Baba Ramdev a heated exchange took place between the Senior Advocate and Judge.

Pertinently, on the last occasion, the Court had relied upon an "anonymous letter" addressed to the CJI with a copy addressed to one of the two Judges on the Bench (same Bench as this time), prompting the Bench to issue contempt notice to Acharya Balkrishna and Patanjali Ayurveda.

In addition to Baba Ramdev, Managing Director of Patanjali Ayurveda- Acharya Balkrishna, who is already on the party array has also been directed to appear on the next date of hearing of the plea filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

During the beginning of the hearing, when Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi sought a short time to file a counter affidavit, Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah said, "Mr. Rohatgi, are you aware that you are the third senior counsel on the third day? Have you been briefed of all that has happened? First, let us come to that", referring to the fact that two other Senior Advocates viz. Sajan Poovayya and Vipin Sanghi had appeared on different occasions for Patajanji in the present case.

When Rohatgi responded in the affirmative, Justice Amanullah asked, "That means you take full responsibility as an officer of the Court and a Senior Counsel?"

"I will", Rohatgi responded.

"Good, good. Because, a lot of times we suddenly find Senior Counsel suddenly saying - oh I was not aware. You have to be aware of whatever transpired", Justice Amanullah said.

"I am aware", Rohatgi replied.

"One thing, we don't want to be sounding as if we are targeting him. But on the same day we passed an order here, at 9.30 in Aaj Tak, lot of things are coming. We are not putting on record now. It is so bulky. Every time you show the Court that- look here I am a step ahead of you. 9.30 has come (not audible) on Aaj Tak, how do you explain that? You are tempting us Mr. Rohagti, as a Senior Counsel I am telling you, and take it from us, we are not going to be lacking. Whatever message goes, whatever it takes, we are not bothered what is said", Justice Amanullah said.

The Bench then expressed its displeasure against the Centre after finding that the counter affidavit filed by it the previous day had not reached the Court. The Bench then went on to pass an order directing the appearance of Acharya Balkrishna and Baba Ramdev.

After dictation of the order, Rohatgi submitted, "Mr. Ramdev is not anything in R5 (Company)".

"Advertisement was there, you had got notice and that day the Counsel appearing had said, because for the first time... we refrained our hands on that first day. Today it is enough", Justice Amanullah said.

"We will see on next day. Nothing", said Amanullah preventing Rohatgi from making further submissions.

Rohatgi then said that the advertisement was there since a long time and that it is not something that is new.

"No, it is new today, because we had not applied our mind. That is why we are saying. This is the difficulty we have, every day a new counsel. So leave it at that. Don't get into that. A Senior Counsel should know. An officer of the Court, you should know your position", Amanullah said.

"My Lord, I am only making a submission. Kindly appreciate what I am saying. I am saying that the advertisement was very much there before the Court on that day before the Court issued notice to R5. I am appearing for R5 and filing an affidavit giving the details. How does Ramdev come into.. between that day and today?", Rohatgi submitted.

You are not appearing for him, then why do you worry, Justice Amanullah then asked Rohatgi.

I will appear for him, responded Rohatgi. "On the next day we will see", Justice Amanullah responded.

"My Lord, there should be some reason why the Court will issue notice. Nothing has happened between that day....", Rohatgi submitted vehemently.

"We have indicated it in the order. Read it when it is uploaded. We are not going to repeat it to you", Justice Amanullah replied.

"My Lord, I am not asking. I have heard the order. I am only making a humble submission", Rohatgi said.

"That is enough Mr. You have made your request, we have heard it. No interference needed in the order dictated. That is it. Yes,", Justice Amanullah asked the Court Officer to call the next matter.

"My lord, this is not fair My Lord", Rohatgi said.

"You may have a right to comment, we are not getting into that dialogue (inaudible)", Justice Amanullah remarked.

"With great respect, My Lord, Counsel is entitled to make submission", Rohatgi submitted.

"You are right, I am not stopping you", Justice Amanullah responded.

"I am only saying there is no difference between that day and today. Your Lordship is referring to some Aaj Tak or something which appeared, then please put it in the order. Put it in the order that you saw something", Rohatgi submitted forcefully.

"Nothing will be put in the order", Justice Amanullah responded.

"It is not fair then, My Lord. If you have seen something, then put it in the order. I am supposed to answer a client by saying that you have seen something. Then please put it in the order. There is also some procedure. If the Court has seen something, then the Court should put it in the order so that I can tell the client that the Court has seen it and therefore..", Rohatgi argued.

Justice Hima Kholi then interrupted to say, "We will issue notice. Then come. Then you can say...We will have the privilege of hearing you. You will assist us".

"We will accept notice (on behalf of Baba Ramdev). Your Lordships may record. I was only trying to say that if the Court has seen something and if the Court feels that there is some aggregation, then we are entitled to respond to that. I am only saying please put it in the order", Rohatgi submitted.

Justice Kholi then said that what persuaded the Court was the fact that the 1954 Act refers to "any person" and not just the company's office bearers.

"I am aware. But with great respect, violation of the law is not contempt. Violation of an order of the Court or an undertaking is contempt", Rohatgi submitted.

"Mr. Rohatgi, it was an order of the Court, you are aware", Justice Kohli replied.

"I am only saying, if the Court feels that there is further aggregation, by virtue of something or the other, if the Court has expressed in open court, it should be a part of the order. I should tell my client, this is what the Court felt, what do you have to say", Rohatgi submitted.

"The order is recorded. Because on the last occasion, there was material. After the order was passed, a press conference was done. You were not responding", Justice Amanullah remarked.

"That is November", Rohatgi replied. "After the order of the Court. After one week of the order of the Court, a press conference was held raising objections. That is why on that day, we did not make you a party and that is what has been noted today", Justice Amanullah said.

"That is months ago. Last order was in February. Last order was not in November. Between February and today if something has happened, please tell us" Senior Advocate replied.

"We are still open to being persuaded, it is only a notice to show cause... There is nothing personal. It has to do with an order passed by the Court. Let us take it on the next date", Justice Hima Kholi said and the hearing concluded.

Cause Title: Indian Medical Association v. Union Of India [W.P.(C) No. 645/2022]