Patanjali Ayurved’s Managing Director Balkrishna on Wednesday apologised to the Supreme Court for releasing misleading advertisements about the medical efficacy of its products, NDTV reported.

The apology came a day after the top court ordered Balkrishna and the company co-founder, yoga guru Ramdev, to appear before it in person. The court passed the order as Ramdev failed to respond to a show cause notice in contempt proceedings initiated against his company.

The petitioner, the Indian Medical Association, alleged that Patanjali carried out a “smear campaign” against modern medicine and the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

In his affidavit, Balkrishna tendered an “unqualified apology” and said that he has the highest regard for the rule of law. He said that the company would ensure it does not issue any such advertisements in the future.

The Patanjali Ayurved Managing Director said that the company’s "intention is only to exhort the citizens of this country to lead a healthier life by consuming products" of Patanjali, including those "for lifestyle ailments through the use of age-old literature and materials supplementing and backed by ayurvedic research".

On Tuesday, a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah remarked that Ramdev and Balkrishna had, on a preliminary reading, violated Sections 3 and 4 of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Objectionable Advertisements Act, 1954. The bench asked the duo to appear in court on April 2.

Section 3 pertains to the prohibition of advertisement of drugs for the treatment of certain diseases and disorders, while Section 4 prohibits misleading advertisements relating to drugs.

However, on Wednesday, Balkrishna’s affidavit said that provisions prohibiting advertisements of purported magical cures were "archaic" and were enacted at a time when "scientific evidence in Ayurveda research [was] lacking".

The company claimed that it now has "evidence-based scientific data with clinical research conducted in Ayurveda, which would demonstrate the advances made through scientific research in the context of diseases mentioned in the said schedule", Bar and Bench reported.

On February 27, Patanjali Ayurved and Balkrishna were issued notices for contempt of court for continuing to publish misleading advertisements regarding Patanjali’s purported medicinal cures despite them making assurances in November that they would stop advertising such products.

The court has temporarily restrained Patanjali Ayurved from advertising any of its products meant to address specific diseases and disorders listed in the Drugs and Magic Remedies Objectionable Advertisements Act.

The court also cautioned the company in February against making statements critical of any system of medicine.

Several state units of the Indian Medical Association complained against Ramdev and Patanjali after a half-page Patanjali advertisement appeared in several newspapers on July 10, 2022, saying: “Misconceptions spread by allopathy. Save yourself and the country from the misconceptions spread by the pharma and medical industry.”

The Indian Medical Association sought the court’s directions to the Centre, the Advertising Standards Council of India and the Central Consumer Protection Authority of India to curb campaigns and advertisements against allopathy.

In November, the court had said that “all false and misleading advertisements of Patanjali Ayurveda have to stop immediately”.