Tables Turned, Court Grills Doctors' Body After Patanjali Flags Interview

Earlier, Supreme Court had pulled up Ramdev and his aide Balkrishna for misleading ads

New Delhi:

In a stunning change of fortune, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) was at the receiving end of the Supreme Court’s retort during today’s hearing in the misleading ads case that landed Yoga guru Ramdev and his aide Balkrishna in trouble.

IMA, which was the petitioner in the case, was pulled up by the bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice A Amanullah over an interview by its president RV Asokan during which he commented on the case. “You say (the) other side (Patanjali Ayurved) is misleading, running your medicine down, but what were you doing?” the bench asked.

Senior Advocate PS Patwalia, appearing for IMA, replied, “We were praising (the) court for (the) most part… but then he (Asokan) fell into a leading question, he just fell into it.” The court said it had raised the matter last week and had expected the IMA to respond. When the doctors’ body said it didn’t want to pre-empt anything, the bench said, “What were you pre-empting? Your client – no less than the President (of IMA) goes to the press on a matter that is subjudice.”

The court noted that the IMA counsel’s “innocent reply is not persuading us”. “See what damage he has caused to himself! Now let us see, we gave you an opportunity,” Justice Amanullah said. “Let us make it clear, this court is not expecting any pats on the back. This court has also received its share of brickbats. We also have broad shoulders but…,” Justice Kohli added.

Mr Patwalia requested for time till the next date of hearing. “He (IMA president) is feeling sorry, he realises he should have just kept his mouth shut,” he told the court. The court was firm. “See the manner in which the matter was proceeding. The views of the court equally apply to you.”

Balkrishna, managing director of Patanjali Ayurved, had approached the court over the IMA president’s interview to PTI, contending that his statements are a direct interference in the court’s proceedings. “These statements are condemnable in nature and a clear attempt to lower the dignity of this Honorable Court and the majesty of law in the eyes of the public,” the petition said, seeking action against the IMA president.

The developments were a reversal of sorts after the court’s strong rebuke of Ramdev and Balkrishna for misleading ads that claimed Patanjali products could cure health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The court rejected multiple sets of apologies by the two, pointing to their statements in the media. Ramdev and Balkrishna subsequently put out prominent apologies in newspapers as per the court’s orders.

In its petition against the yoga guru and his Haridwar-based firm, the IMA had earlier flagged its advertisements that allegedly projected the allopathy and the doctors in poor light. The doctors’ body said the “continuous, systematic, and unabated spread of misinformation” comes alongside Patanjali’s efforts to make false claims about curing certain diseases through the use of Patanjali products.