Patanjali controversy: Bigger ad published after SC asks if Baba Ramdev’s apology is of “the same size” as product ads

A Supreme Court bench wants to know if yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his business associate Acharya Balkrishna, co-founders of the Patanjali brand, have prominently published their unqualified apology in newspapers, and whether those apology ads are of “the same size” as their product ads with misleading claims. Consequently, the Patanjali Ayurved team has reportedly published a fresh public apology in newspapers today.

Patanjali Ayurved Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna and Patanjali cofounder yoga guru Baba Ramdev
Patanjali Ayurved Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna and Patanjali co-founder yoga guru Baba Ramdev. Image courtesy: Instagram/patanjaliproducts

According to a Business Standard report today: “The size of the apology and, consequently, its visibility in the papers appears larger (nearly double in size) than the earlier apology, which was limited to just a notch above 70 words. This comes after the top court, on Tuesday, had questioned the size and visibility of the company’s earlier apology concerning misleading advertisements.

The latest Patanjali apology ad reads: “In wake of [the] on-going matter before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, we in our individual capacity as well as on behalf of the Company, unconditionally apologise for the non-compliance or disobedience of directions/orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.”

The Patanjali co-founders yesterday faced court grilling in a case that has been going on for some time now. They have been under severe criticism for their Patanjali Ayurved product marketing: making “treatment” claims unsupported by medical evidence.

About two months ago, the Supreme Court bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah said that “the entire country has been taken for a ride” by the company.

Yesterday, the judges asked the Patanjali Ayurved side, “Is [the apology ad] the same size of advertisements that you normally issue in newspapers?”

“Where was it published?” ask SC judges

Appearing before the judges yesterday, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Ramdev and Balkrishna, told the bench that they had issued on Monday an unqualified apology for the “lapses” on their part.

“Where was it published?” the bench asked.

Rohatgi said that the apology had been published in 67 newspapers across the country.

“Prominently?” asked the bench, and then directed that the apology published be filed on record. It said that it wanted to see the actual apology published in newspapers.

“The said advertisements are not on record. It is submitted that the same have been collated and shall be filed in the course of the day with copies to counsel for the parties. Needful shall be done within two days with copies to counsel for the parties,” said the SC bench.

The judges said that the matter related to the apology published by Ramdev and Balkrishna will be considered on April 30.

The apex court is hearing a plea filed in 2022 by the Indian Medical Association, alleging a smear campaign against the COVID vaccination drive and modern systems of medicine.

Ramdev and Balkrishna had earlier tendered an “unconditional and unqualified apology” before the top court over advertisements issued by the firm making tall claims about the medicinal efficacy of its products.

—With inputs by CtoI News Desk