Supreme Court Questions Patanjali’s Apology for Misleading Ads: Is It as Visible as Their Advertisements?

In a recent hearing, the Supreme Court critically examined Patanjali Ayurved’s approach to rectifying its misleading advertisements, specifically questioning the sincerity and visibility of its published apologies. The court scrutinized whether the apology notices were as prominently displayed as the company’s usual full-page product advertisements.

Patanjali, during the session, informed the bench that it had issued an apology in 67 newspapers following a court directive to address previous misleading advertisements and statements made against allopathic medicine. The company assured the court of its respect and pledged not to repeat such mistakes. However, the justices, Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, raised concerns about the timing and the prominence of these apologies, which only appeared a week before the hearing and seemingly smaller than their typical ads.

Justice Kohli explicitly asked, “Is the apology the same size as your advertisements?” emphasizing the need for the apology to be as visible as the original advertisements to ensure public notice. The court has ordered Patanjali to submit a compilation of the advertisements and their corresponding apologies to compare their sizes directly.

The ongoing scrutiny by the Supreme Court came after a warning issued to Ramdev, the face of Patanjali, against denigrating allopathy. The court had previously mandated a public apology from Patanjali, reflecting genuine contrition, within a week. This directive was part of a broader concern about misleading advertisements by FMCGs, which, according to Justice Kohli, potentially harm vulnerable groups such as infants, school-going children, and the elderly by promoting products under false pretenses.

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Further complicating the issue, the court observed the necessity to involve the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to assess governmental actions against abuses under the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, highlighting the need for more robust regulatory measures.

The matter has been scheduled for further discussion on April 30, as the court continues to address the allegations brought forward by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) regarding Patanjali’s campaign against modern medicine.

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