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Baba Ramdev contempt case: SC to consider role of FMCGs in misleading ads

By Jhanak Singh      23 April, 2024 03:16 PM      0 Comments
Baba Ramdev contempt case SC to consider role of FMCGs in misleading ads

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought to widen ambit contempt proceedings initiated against Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev and Patanjali's MD Acharya Balkrishna by putting under its focus a large number of FMCG companies for taking a ride on the consumers, including of babies, children and senior citizens, by misleading advertisements.

Also Read - Misleading advts case: Baba Ramdev, Balkrishna tender apology

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah grilled India Medical Association, which sought action against Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, for their allegedly indulging in "unethical activities of prescribing overpriced and expensive medicines for extraneous consideration" by their members.

"The petitioner IMA needs to put its house in order," the bench said.

"What are you doing with your members who are prescribing medicines for consideration? Why should we not turn wheels at you? We are not looking at the respondents alone. We can't let public to be taken for a ride, you can't shrug off your responsibility," the bench asked senior advocate P S Patwalia, appearing for IMA.

In this regard, the court impleaded the National Medical Commission, the regulatory body, for proper assistance on a request by Patwalia, who agreed to file a response to the query.

Also Read - Baba Ramdev, Acharya Balkrishna offer to make public apology in SC for misleading advertisements

The court also asked the Union government, led by Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj to file an affidavit explaining the actions taken by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs for misleading advertisements since 2018.

"We want to clarify. We are not here to gun for a particular party. We want to know how agencies are acting. We feel it is part of the process of rule of law," the bench said.

At the outset, senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Balbir Singh for Baba Ramdev and others submitted they have issued an advertisement 67 newspapers across the country tendering unqualified apology in the matter.

The bench, however, asked them if this apology was in equal size of the "misleading advertisements".

On their request, the court allowed them to file the original newspapers highlighting the size of newspapers.

The court also sought to know from the Centre why it has issued a letter to all states licencing authority on August 29, 2023 asking them not to take any action under Rule 170 of the Rules under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945.

"Is it not arbitrary and colourable exercise," the bench asked the government's counsel.

Also Read - SC comes down heavily upon Baba Ramdev; rejects apology in contempt case

Rule 170 was meant to prohibit advertisement of Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani drugs without the ad being cleared by the licensing authority of the state where the manufacturer of the medicine is located or where the corporate office is located, in case the manufacturing is happening in more than one state.

The bench scheduled the matter for hearing on May 7.

On April 16, Baba Ramdev and Balkrishna offered before the court to tender public apology in the case of misleading advertisements for medicines for curing various diseases.

 



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