The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to accept a second apology from Patanjali Ayurved’s Managing Director Balkrishna and co-founder, yoga guru Ramdev, in the contempt proceedings initiated against the company for its misleading advertisements, reported Live Law.

The court said that they only apologised when they were “caught on the wrong foot”.

The Supreme Court also castigated the Uttarakhand State Licencing Authority for failing to act against Patanjali and its subsidiary Divya Pharmacy. “We will rip you apart,” a division bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said, according to PTI.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association against Patanjali Ayurved Limited accusing the company of carrying out a “smear campaign” against modern medicine and the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

The court reprimanded Balkrishna and Ramdev for an advertisement issued by their company on December 4 after it had said in an undertaking on November 21 that it would not make any “casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy or against any system of medicine”.

On Wednesday, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Balkrishna and Ramdev, told the court that the apology was “unconditional and unqualified”. The bench, however, did not accept the apology. “We consider it a wilful, deliberate disobedience of the undertaking,” Justice Kohli said.

The court also ordered the current and previous officers of the Uttarakhand Licensing Authority to file detailed affidavits explaining why they did not take any action against Patanjali under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, reported The Hindu.

“Why should we not come down like a ton of bricks on your officers,” Kohli asked. “They have been filibustering.”

The Supreme Court remarked that Ramdev and Balkrishna tried to evade appearing personally before the court by making false claims about foreign travel. It noted that though an application seeking exemption from personal appearance was filed on March 30, the flight tickets were dated March 31.

Previous hearing

In its previous hearing on April 2, the Supreme Court had reprimanded Balkrishna and Ramdev and granted them a last opportunity to file affidavits of compliance in the contempt of court proceedings.

On March 20, Balkrishna had tendered an “unqualified apology” and said that he had the highest regard for the rule of law, adding that Patanjali Ayurved would ensure it did not issue any such advertisements in the future.

He also said that the company’s media wing was not aware of the Supreme Court’s order halting the broadcast of such advertisements.

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

The bench also questioned why the ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) had chosen “to keep its eyes shut when Patanjali was going to town saying there [was] no remedy for Covid in allopathy”.

The case

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 the company making assurances to the Supreme Court in November that it would stop advertising such products.

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

The court had 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.”

Also read: A brief history of Patanjali’s dangerous claims