“We Will Rip You Apart”: Supreme Court To Authorities In Patanjali Ads Case


New Delhi:
Rejecting another set of apologies filed by Patanjali founders Ramdev and Balkrishna for the company’s misleading ads, the Supreme Court today said “we are not blind” and that “it does not want to be generous” in this case. The court tore into the Uttarakhand licensing authority for not acting against Patanjali for so long and also noted that it is not satisfied with the Centre’s reply in the matter.

“The apology is on paper. Their back is against the wall. We decline to accept this, we consider it a deliberate violation of the undertaking,” the bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice A Amanullah said.

At the beginning of the proceedings, the bench noted that Ramdev and Balkrishna sent their apologies to the media first. “Till the matter hit the court, the contemnors did not find it fit to send us the affidavits. They sent it to the media first, till 7.30 pm yesterday it was not uploaded for us. They believe in publicity clearly,” Justice Kohli said.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Patanjali founders, said he cannot speak for the registry and that the apologies had been served.

As he read out the affidavits, Justice Amanullah said, “You are defrauding the affidavit. Who drafted it, I am surprised.” Mr Rohatgi said there was a “lapse”, to which the court replied, “very small word”.

Justice Amanullah asked if the apology is “even heartfelt”. “What else needs to be said, my lords, we will. He is not (a) professional litigant. People make mistakes in life,” Mr Rohatgi replied. “Even after our orders? Tendering apology is not enough. You should suffer the consequences for violating the court’s order. We do not want to be generous in this case,” he said.

The court said a message needs to go out to the society at large. “(This is) not just about one FMCG but violation of the law. Look at your replies to state authority when they asked you to withdraw, you said HC said no coercive steps against us. We are making it a part of your conduct, (the) larger picture is your conduct with the public at large but saying it is in good faith.”

The court then turned to the Uttarakhand government and questioned why licensing inspectors did not act and that three officers should be suspended at once. The court said the state’s officers had done nothing. “We have strong objection to the use of the word ‘Bonafide’ for officers. We are not going to take (it) lightly. We will rip you apart,” it said, saying that officers were just “pushing files”.

“In 2021, the ministry wrote to the Uttarakhand licensing authority against a misleading advertisement. In response, the company gave a response to the licensing authority. However, the authority let off the company with a warning. The 1954 Act does not provide for warning and there is no provision for compounding the offence,” the court said.

“This has happened six times, back and forth back and forth, the licensing inspector remained quiet. There is no report by the officer. The person appointed subsequently acted the same way. All those three officers should be suspended right now,” it said, adding that the licensing authority was “in cahoots with the contemnors”.

The bench said that the Supreme Court is being mocked. “You are acting like a post office. Did you take legal advice? Shameful of you,” it told the state counsel. “Why don’t we agree that you are hand-in-glove with Patanjali,” the court asked the authority, adding, “you have being playing with people’s life”.

When the Uttarakhand counsel told the court that they will take action, Justice Kohli remarked, “Thank God, now you have woken up at last and realise that there is a statute existing.”

“What about all the faceless people who have consumed these Patanjali medicines stated to cure diseases which cannot be cured. Can you do this to an ordinary person?” the court said. The licensing authority apologised to the court and assured that they would surely act on the matter.

The Supreme Court then said Ramdev and Balkrishna tried to wriggle out of physical appearance in court and said they were travelling abroad.

The state licensing authority, it noted, was in “deep slumber” and the “disdain” shown by Divya pharmacy to the warnings of state authority is “apparent from tone and tenor of the reply”.

The court said all who held post as district ayurvedic and Unani officers who held posts from 2018 till now shall file replies on actions taken by them against these ads. The court said it will pass orders on Ramdev and Balkrishna on April 16.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *