Indian yoga guru Ramdev apologises to top court for misleading adverts

Judges will 'think about' plea for leniency in case stemming from claims traditional treatments could cure diseases such as cancer

'This all happened in the excitement of work, it won’t happen in future,' Indian yoga guru Ramdev told the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday. AFP
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Indian yoga guru Ramdev apologised to the Supreme Court in New Delhi on Tuesday for defying its orders to stop misleading advertisements claiming his traditional medicines could cure diseases such as cancer.

The court is hearing the contempt of court case arising from a petition filed in 2022 by the Indian Medical Association against claims made by Mr Ramdev's company Patanjali Ayurved.

Its adverts attacked modern medicine and made claims for Patanjali Ayurved's treatments for various diseases.

In November, Patanjali Ayurved assured the court that it would stop these adverts, but continued promoting its medicines, leading to the contempt of court case.

Mr Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved co-founder Acharya Balkrishna personally apologised to the packed court on Tuesday.

“Most respected judge, whatever we have done, we have apologised for it,” Mr Ramdev said. “This all happened in the excitement of work, it won’t happen in future.”

The Supreme Court has previously refused to accept two formal apologies from Mr Ramdev and Mr Balkrishna. On Tuesday, judges said they would “think about” the latest apology.

“We are not saying we will forgive you. We cannot be blind to your earlier history, we will think about your apology,” said Justice Hima Kohli. “You are not so innocent that you were completely unaware of what was going on in court.”

Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah told Mr Ramdev: “You are doing good work in your field … don't disparage allopathy [conventional treatments],”

Mr Ramdev, who rose to fame in the early 2000s for promoting yoga, launched Patanjali Ayurved in 2006.

The conglomerate sells a wide range of items – ranging from noodles to herbal toothpaste – and controls one of the richest and fastest growing business empires in the country.

The IMA had filed a case before the court over a half-page advertisement issued by Patanjali Ayurved in newspapers in July 2022, urging readers to “save yourself and the country from the misconceptions spread by pharma and medical industry”.

Patanjali Ayurved was barred from advertising products for ailments such as asthma, cancer and diabetes, because they violated Indian laws for medicines.

The next hearing will take place on April 23.

Updated: April 16, 2024, 2:59 PM