Baba Ramdev, India’s top yoga guru, warned by Supreme Court over misleading ad claims

Baba Ramdev, India’s top yoga guru, warned by Supreme Court over misleading ad claims
  • PublishedApril 3, 2024

India’s top court has warned the nation’s most popular yoga guru that it could take stern legal action against him and his company for not complying with a directive to stop advertisements saying certain traditional medicines can fully cure some diseases.

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, dressed in a saffron-coloured robe, and his business partner Acharya Balkrishna were present in the Supreme Court on Tuesday when the judges issued the warning during contempt proceedings against the pair’s firm Patanjali Ayurved, which sells hugely popular ayurvedic medicines.

The case relates to the Indian Medical Association’s allegations that Patanjali disparages conventional medicine and has continued publishing ads saying traditional medicines offer a “permanent solution” for blood pressure and asthma, despite an assurance it gave to a court last year that it would stop.

A middle-aged Indian man with a long beard sits in a chair in front of shelves of health products.
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev co-founded Patanjali Ayurved, which sells hugely popular ayurvedic medicines.(Reuters: Adnan Abidi)

The court said it was not convinced by an “unqualified apology” Patanjali filed last month, which described some Indian drug laws as “archaic”.

“Shall we assume that every act that is archaic should not be [enforced]?” Justice Hima Kohli told Ramdev and the company’s lawyers in court.

“Your apology is not persuading this court. We think it’s more of a lip service.”

Justice Kohli added that the company must explain in detail why it continued with its ads.

“Be ready for the consequences … take this contempt seriously,” she said.

Though the judges did not say what action they could take against Ramdev, a contempt of court directive under Indian law attracts a jail term of up to six months and a monetary penalty.

A Patanjali spokesperson said the company would comply with the court’s order.

Two middle-aged Indian men sit cross-legged in a yoga pose.
Baba Ramdev, right, with Patanjali co-founder Acharya Balkrishna.(Reuters: Amit Dave)

Ramdev has a huge following in India, and offers yoga and ayurvedic cures for many illnesses through his TV shows.

He has often faced the ire of doctors and activists who accuse the firm of making incorrect assertions about medicinal efficacy, an allegation he denies.

Ramdev and Balkrishna are due to appear in court again on April 10.


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