SC Seeks Centre's Reply On Action Taken Against Misleading Advertisements, Grills IMA - Vibes Of India

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SC Seeks Centre’s Reply On Action Taken Against Misleading Advertisements, Grills IMA

| Updated: April 23, 2024 17:44

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre about action taken regarding “misrepresenting advertisements for things like foods for babies, children, and elderly” sold by Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah raised the issue while hearing a contempt of court case against Patanjali Ayurved for allegedly flouting its orders in a matter in which it has been sued by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

During Tuesday’s hearing, the bench made it clear it was not looking at just Patanjali. “We must clarify that we are not here to go for a particular party, particular agency or particular authority. It is a PIL and is in the larger interest of the consumer public to know which way they are going and how and why they get misled and how agencies are acting to prevent that misuse,” said Justice Kohli. “And the public’s entitlement to know the truth,” added Justice Amanullah.

“…after going through the kind of coverage that recently has been brought to our notice of the misrepresenting advertisements for things like foods for babies, children, which we now understand is under scrutiny by the Union, the Union will have to tell us something about it,” said Justice Kohli.

She added, “Several other FMCGs too who have been going” the way the IMA had accused Patanjali of. They shouldn’t be let off lightly. The Union of India should respond to what they did because you only claim that you identify where the faultline is and you tell the state authorities. After that, you probably do nothing,” Justice Kohli told Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj who appeared for the Centre.

Turning the heat on the IMA, the bench also sought to know what action it had taken against its members who allegedly endorsed medicines to patients for valuable considerations.

“Lastly, while the petitioners point fingers at the respondent, those other four fingers are also pointing at you. Because members of your association have been busy enduring medicines to patients left, right and centre… What are you doing to rein in those members of your association in the allopathic field is a question we need to ask you too,” said Justice Kohli.

As regards the contempt case against Patanjali Ayurved, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi informed the bench that the group had issued advertisements on Monday in 67 newspapers tendering an unqualified apology for the lapses on their part. However, since the advertisements were not placed on record, the court gave it one more week to do so.

The bench also posed questions to Rohatgi on the size of the advertisements, whether they were of the same size as those which are commonly issued by the group. To which Rohatgi responded in the negative and said the group would be issuing further advertisements.

The Supreme Court had issued a contempt of court notice to Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, Managing Director, Patanjali, for allegedly flouting an undertaking given to it on November 21, 2023. The group, accused by IMA of issuing misleading advertisements and passing disparaging comments against allopathy, assured the court to refrain from making such statements or issuing advertisements making such claims.

However, Ramdev held a press conference on November 22, 2023, in Haridwar and the company issued an advertisement on December 4, 2023, in alleged violation of the undertaking and this upset the court.

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