'Finally woken up': Supreme Court after Uttarakhand cancels 14 Patanjali licences

Court granted Patanjali "one more opportunity" to submit the original page of each newspaper containing the apology and exempted Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrisha from appearing.
'Finally woken up': Supreme Court after Uttarakhand cancels 14 Patanjali licences
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday reprimanded the Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority for its "inaction" in the misleading advertisement case against Patanjali Ayurved. The court stated that the authority "tried to wash away everything". It also pulled up the Baba Ramdev-promoted company, noting it was "not complying" with its orders.

The Patanjali produced an e-copy of the public apology when the court asked for original records. In response, the bench said, "This is not compliance". "I am raising my hands in this case; enough of this non-compliance of our orders," the bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said.

The court granted "one more opportunity" to Patanjali to file the original page of each newspaper in which the apology was issued.

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'Finally woken up': Supreme Court after Uttarakhand cancels 14 Patanjali licences

However, the bench noted, "There has been a marked improvement." "There was only Patanjali earlier, now there are names. We appreciate that. They have understood," Justice Amanullah said. The court had asked the company to re-issue the apology after the initial one was smaller.

Both Baba Ramdev and Patanjali's Managing Director Acharya Balkrishan have been granted exemption from appearing in person in the top court on the next date of hearing, which is May 7.

Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority informed the court that the manufacturing licences of 14 products of Patanjali and its sister concern Divya Pharmacy were suspended on April 15 with "immediate effect".

In response to this, the top court questioned the delay in taking action, stating that the authority has now "woken up from sleep".

"This shows that once you want to do something, you do it with lightning speed, but if you don't, then for years nothing moves. In three days, you have taken all action. What were you doing for the past nine months since taking over? Finally, you realise that you have power and responsibilities. You have finally woken up from sleep," the court said.

"The Licensing Authority submitted that a vigilant check was kept." The court replied, "You have tried to wash away everything. Is that being vigilant? We asked you to be careful. You're giving certificates to yourself."

"You had to tread with caution. Can you afford to say you had been vigilant?" Justice Kohli said.

The Supreme Court, hearing a plea filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) alleging a smear campaign against the Covid vaccination drive and modern systems of medicine, had asked Patanjali Ayurved to publish a public apology.

Following this, the company issued an unqualified public apology in as many as 67 newspapers. However, the court asked the company to issue a fresh "prominent" apology equal to the size of their advertisements, and Patanjali published a bigger apology. The company also tendered an apology before the top court during the previous hearing.

The previous hearings also witnessed sharp comments against the company from the Supreme Court. On April 23, the bench came down heavily on the company over the fake advertisements by stating "We can't let the public be taken for a ride. It also asked the Centre and state licencing authorities to "activate" themselves to deal with misleading advertisements.

On Monday, the Uttarakhand government suspended the manufacturing licence of 14 Patanjali products. The banned products include Divya Pharmacy's Drishti Eye drop, Swasari Gold, Swasari Vati, Bronchom, Swasari Pravahi, Swasari Avaleh, Mukta Vati Extra Power, Lipidom, Bp Grit, Madhugrit, Madhunashini Vati Extra Power, Livamrit Advance, Livogrit and Eyegrit Gold.

The Supreme Court, in November 2023, had directed Patanjali to stop advertisements of its products claiming to treat ailments and disorders specified in the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. However, citing the continuation of the advertisements, the IMA moved the court with a contempt plea.

Source: India Today

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