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May 19, 2024

SC Asks Patanjali: ‘Has Sale of 14 Products Whose Licences Were Cancelled Stopped’

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Patanjali Ayurved Ltd if the sale of its 14 products, whose manufacturing licences were suspended by the Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority last month, have stopped. The court, which reserved its order on the contempt notice issued to yoga guru Ramdev, his aide Balkrishna and Patanjali Ayurved Ltd in the misleading advertisements case, was told by senior advocate Balbir Singh, appearing for Patanjali, that they have stopped the sale of these products.

“Is it also correct that your stockists have stopped storing them and selling them?” a bench of justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah asked, adding, “you need to check it and give an affidavit”.

Singh told the bench that they will file an affidavit on this. He said the firm has written to the channels where advertisements of these products were being shown. “We are proposing to reserve orders but your affidavit will make a difference,” the bench said.

It noted that the counsel appearing for Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, Balkrishna and Ramdev have sought time to file affidavits indicating the steps that are being taken to recall the advertisements of products, whose licences have been suspended, and for recalling these products.

“The said affidavit is sought to be filed within three weeks. Needful shall be done within three weeks,” the bench said.

It also noted the submissions of Patanjali’s counsel that the affidavit proposed to be filed was without prejudice to their right and contention to assail the order of suspension of licence of these products before the appropriate forum.

“Orders are reserved on the contempt notice issued to respondents five to seven (Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, Balkrishna and Ramdev),” the bench said.

It said the presence of Ramdev and Balkrishna will be dispensed with till the court passes specific orders for their presence. During the hearing, Justice Amanullah observed, “The only concern was that the public should be well informed.”

He said Ramdev has a lot of following and “people blindly follow him”. “Please don’t take the public for granted,” the bench said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was present in the court, said Ramdev has his own contribution in the field of yoga and ayurveda. “People look up to him,” Justice Amanullah observed. “On international platform, yoga having been brought to the notice of all is a major contribution by him and his team,” Justice Kohli said, adding that issue related to the products of Patanjali Ayurved Ltd was another matter.

The bench noted that affidavit of the state licensing authority of West Bengal was on record in the matter while the counsel appearing for Nagaland has said the affidavit was filed yesterday. The bench observed that Nagaland’s affidavit was not on record.

It granted the last opportunity of four weeks to all the other state licensing authorities of the states and union territories to file their respective affidavits. “Besides pointing out the action taken on the complaints that may have been received by the concerned state licensing authorities, the affidavits shall also indicate the nature of suo motu action taken by each of the said authorities to ensure that there are no misleading advertisements issued by manufacturers, advertisers, advertising agencies of the relevant health products/food items/food supplements,” it said.

The bench said the authorities have to have much more sense of responsibility towards the public health of the consumers. During the hearing, the bench also dealt with the issue concerning the Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority.

The counsel appearing for Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority said manufacturing licences of 14 products of Patanjali Ayurved Ltd was suspended last month. “Did you check whether these products are still available in the market?” the bench asked.

The counsel said they were making inventory of the stocks and they have said about it in their affidavit. When he said the authority has offered unconditional apology for not taking requisite steps in the past, the bench observed, “For the past period, you have to be candid, they were as complicit as they could be.”

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing in July. The Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority had earlier told the apex court that manufacturing licences of 14 products of Patanjali Ayurved Ltd and Divya Pharmacy have been “suspended with immediate effect”.

The SC is hearing a plea filed in 2022 by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) alleging a smear campaign by Patanjali against the Covid vaccination drive and modern systems of medicine. The Patanjali Ayurved Ltd had assured the top court on November 21 last year that it will not violate any law, especially those relating to advertising or branding of products manufactured and marketed by it.

It had also assured the bench that “no casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy or against any system of medicine will be released to the media in any form”. The top court had said Patanjali Ayurved Ltd is “bound down to such assurance”.

The non-observance of the specific undertaking and subsequent media statements had irked the bench, which later issued notices to show cause why contempt proceedings should be not initiated against them.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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