The Supreme Court today while dealing with a Writ Petition filed under Article 32 by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has restrained Patanjali Ayurved from advertising or branding some of the products manufactured and marketed by it which are meant to address the ailments/diseases/conditions mentioned under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954 and the Rules.

The Court came down heavily on Patanjali Ayurved conglomerate for persistently disseminating alleged misleading claims and advertisements targeting modern systems of medicine.

The Court expressed dissatisfaction with Patanjali Ayurved's ongoing promotion of such misleading information despite giving an assurance in November, last year. The Court issued notice to Acharya Balakrishna to show cause as to why action should not be taken against him for contempt of court.

Consequentially, a bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Ahmanullah observed, “...The aforesaid advertisements…and those that form part of documents annexed with an anonymous letter dated 15-1-2024 addressed to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India with copies marked to one of us named rather, and two other Hon’ble Judges including one us, show that the said advertisements issued and press conference conducted against the order passed on 21-11-2023 are taken on record. Notice to show cause. Prima facie this Court is of the view that Respondent No. 5 and the Managing Director, is in violation of the undertaking given in the order passed on 21-11-2023. Issue notice as to why contempt of proceedings should not be initiated against the Respondent no 5, and its Managing Director…”.

Senior Advocate P S Patwalia appeared for the Petitioner, Senior Advocate Vipin Sanghi appeared for Patanjali and Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj appeared for the Union of India.

During the arguments today, Justice Amanullah very sternly said, “You have a lot to answer. Today I am going to pass a really strict order. You flouted this order. You say that we can cure? Don't feign ignorance. It is a really serious matter, as a Senior Counsel we expected…seriousness from your side”.

“We are taken by surprise”, Counsel for the petitioner said while taking note of a press release.

"You are taken by surprise, then hold your client responsible for that”, Justice Amanullah commented.

“You have the courage and the guts to come up with this advertisement, after the order of this Court?... What do you mean by permanent relief? Is it a cure? are taking the public…today be prepared, argue at length. Today, we are prepared to pass a very very stringent and strict order, you are tempting the Court”, Justice Amanullah added further.

In the matter, the IMA had filed a writ petition expressing apprehensions about what they characterize as an "uninterrupted, systematic, and unchecked dissemination of misinformation" concerning allopathy and the contemporary medical system. In the petition, it is contended that Patanjali's misleading advertisements not only undermine allopathy but also assert false claims regarding the cure of specific diseases.

On the earlier occasion, the Court had orally told Senior Advocate P S Patwalia who appeared for the Petitioner that it is focused on the cause and on any individual. Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya had then requested that the part of the order where the Court says that the issue is confined to Patanjali be corrected to say that the matter is not confined to Patanjali. Justice Amanullah said that Patanjali's case will be used as a test case, something to begin with for the present and that the exercise will not be limited to Patanjali.

Also, previously, the bench had also expressed its reluctance to turn the matter into a debate of "Allopathy vs. Ayurveda".

Cause Title: Indian Medical Association v. Union Of India