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Court orders Indian yoga guru to cease ‘false advertising’

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Baba Ramdev. Image – @DainikBhaskar, Twitter (X).

An ayurveda brand promoted by celebrity yogi Baba Ramdev has been accused of misleading people about its products.

India’s Supreme Court has warned Patanjali Ayurved, a company manufacturing ayurvedic products and fronted by yoga guru Baba Ramdev, against “false and misleading advertisements” or be prepared to pay hefty fines.

The court on Tuesday heard a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) against the company, co-founded by Ramdev, who came under scrutiny at the height of the Covid pandemic, when he suggested that yoga and remedies sourced from natural ingredients could cure virus.

Weighing in on the matter on Tuesday, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Prashant Kumar noted that while not wanting to trigger an “allopathy vs ayurveda” debate, it sought to find a solution to the issue of misleading medical advertisements, LiveLaw reported.

“All such false and misleading advertisements of Patanjali Ayurved have to stop immediately,” Justice Amanullah said. The judge warned that the court would consider imposing fines of up to 10 million rupees ($120,000) against each product that falsely claims to be able to cure diseases.

The doctors’ body, in a writ petition, accused Patanjali of fuelling vaccine hesitancy by spreading “false rumors” about Covid-19. The complaint also mentioned a video that went viral in 2021 in which Ramdev was seen mocking people looking for oxygen support during the second wave of the pandemic. In the immediate aftermath, the IMA wrote to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that Ramdev be booked under sedition charges for his alleged misinformation campaign.

On Wednesday, Ramdev called a press conference at which he accused a “group of doctors” of carrying out an attack against his company. “A few doctors have formed a group that continuously does propaganda against yoga, Ayurveda,” he claimed, according to the Hindustan Times.

Patanjali manufactures cosmetics, ayurvedic medicine, personal care, and food products and is headquartered in Haridwar, a Hindu pilgrimage site in northern India’s Uttarakhand state. The company is often cited in marketing case studies as a home-grown brand that could challenge the dominance of multinational companies in the consumer goods segments with its ‘herbal’ and ‘natural appeal.’ Patanjali is currently among the leading players in the sector, with annual turnover of around $4 billion. Acharya Balkrishna, Ramdev’s business partner, who has a 94% stake in the company, has a personal fortune worth $3.2 billion, as per Forbes.

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Source:RT News

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