The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict in a contempt case against Patanjali Ayurved co-founders yoga guru Ramdev and Managing Director Balkrishna for publishing misleading advertisements in violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Objectionable Advertisements Act, Bar and Bench reported.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah also set aside its earlier direction mandating that Ramdev and Balkrishna personally appear in court for the proceedings.

The direction was set aside after Ramdev and Balkrishna’s counsel assured the court that they would submit details of all steps taken by Patanjali Ayurved to stop publishing misleading advertisements.

The court was told that the affidavit will be filed in three weeks and that it would also elaborate on the steps taken by the company to recall those products whose licences have been suspended.

The bench 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.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Balbir Singh, representing Ramdev and Balkrishna, told the bench that the company had written to various platforms that were still carrying its advertisements. He also said that the sale of banned products had come to a halt.

The court, after reserving its order in the case, said: “Public is cognisant, if they have choices they make well informed choices.” It added that Ramdev had a lot of influence and urged him to “use it in the right way”.

Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta told the bench that Ramdev had “done a lot of good for yoga”. In response, Justice Kohli said: “What has been done for yoga is good, but Patanjali products is another matter.”

At the case’s previous hearing on May 7, the bench said that social media influencers and celebrities were also liable to be punished if they endorsed products or services in misleading advertisements.

After the court’s orders on April 16, Patanjali’s co-founders had apologised for the “mistake of publishing advertisements and holding a press conference” even after it assured the court that it would cease to promote products making dubious claims.

SC pulls up Indian Medical Association chief

At the hearing on Tuesday, the Supreme Court also pulled up Indian Medical Association chief RV Asokan for his “disparaging” remarks about the case’s proceedings and dismissed his affidavit seeking an apology, The Times of India reported.

In an interview with PTI in April, Asokan had said that it was “unfortunate” that the court had criticised the Indian Medical Association and some of the practices of private doctors.

His remarks were in response to a question about the bench’s observations on April 23. The court had said that while it was pointing one finger at Patanjali, the remaining fingers were pointed at the association.

Asokan told PTI that the “vague and generalised statements” made by the court had demoralised private doctors.

“We sincerely believe they [the court] need to look at what was the material before them,” he said. “They perhaps did not consider that this was not the issue that was before them in the court.”

Subsequently, on May 7, the court described Asokan'’s remarks as “very, very unacceptable” and asked him to file a response.

Rejecting Asokan’s affidavit on Tuesday, the court said: “You can’t sit on a couch giving an interview to the press and lampooning the court.”

It also told the counsel for the Indian Medical Association that it was not inclined to accept Asokan’s apology at the current stage.