'Yet not accepted apology,' SC grants one week to Baba Ramdev, Acharya Balkrishna to redeem themselves in contempt case

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SC bench, which quizzed Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, said they have acted in irresponsible manner by criticising other modes of treatment

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a plea by Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev and Patanjali's MD Acharya Balkrishna to take steps to redeem themselves and show their bona fide in a case related to publication of misleading advertisements.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah granted one week's time to them on a request made by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing on their behalf.

"We have yet not decided whether to accept your apology," the bench said.

The court fixed the matter related to contempt proceedings against them for hearing on April 23.

During the hearing, the bench interacted with Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna who repeatedly told the court in Hindi that they rendered unconditional and unqualified apology for their acts and they won't commit it in future.

The court, however, made it clear to them that it has yet not decided to grant pardon to them in the contempt proceedings.

Rohatgi offered to make a public apology to show contrition in the matter.

The bench, which quizzed Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, said they have acted in irresponsible manner by criticising other modes of treatment.

"Aapko kisi ne ye haq nai dia ki aap dusare paddhati ko shoot down kia...Lailaj bimariyon ka advertisement nai Kia ja skta hai...Kanoon sab k liye barabar hai...Ye gair jimmedar harkat hai," the bench told them.

"Allopathy ko degrade nai kijiye, ye kannon ki avhelna hai," the bench made it clear to them.

The court also said Baba Ramdev has done good work in popularising Yoga across the country and the world but he was also in business which is subject to regulations.

"Aap jiska prachar kar rhe hain, ye Maharishi Charak k type se chal rhi hai, public sab ka prayog karte hain, sab Mila kar log jeevan jeete hain," the bench said.

The bench finally told their counsel that it wanted to be dispassionate and objective and will consider the matter on the next date.

On April 2, 2024, the court came down heavily on Baba Ramdev and Patanjali Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna for not taking the contempt notices issued to them seriously.

The court called them out for grossly violating the undertaking given to the highest court of the land over their advertisement.

"There is a gross violation of the undertaking given to the highest court of the land..you should have made sure that the chain of command should go to the last man..we also can say that we are sorry to accept your apology that your media department is an island..", said the bench referring to the affidavit filed by Baba Ramdev and Balkrishna saying that the ads were approved by the media department and they were unaware of it.

"What engages us is what you did after November, after you gave us an undertaking..you cannot feign ignorance..you have made a statement in your so called 'unqualified apology' is that the Act itself is archaic..it is the law of the land..it governs the field, how can you violate it..all your ads are in violation of the Act..this adds insult to injury..", the bench added.

On February 27, Court had imposed a ban of advertisements of medicines Ramdev Baba's Patanjali noting that it has been taking the country for a ride by making misleading claims.

The bench had further recorded that the medicines claim to cure certain diseases without any empirical evidence for the same.

Indian Medical Association (IMA) had filed the instant plea alleging a smear campaign by Ramdev Baba and his company against the COVID-19 vaccination and modern medicine.

The Court had in November last year also directed Patanjali not to publish false advertisements in the future.

Case Title: Indian Medical Association & Anr vs. Union of India and Ors