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IndiaRamdev, Balkrishna tender apologies ‘in person' with folded hands; Supreme Court says...

Ramdev, Balkrishna tender apologies ‘in person’ with folded hands; Supreme Court says ‘you are not off the hook’


New Delhi, Apr 16: Facing contempt of court proceedings for publication of ‘misleading' advertisements, Patanjali Ayurved co-founders Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna on Tuesday tendered unconditional apologies in person with folded hands to the Supreme Court, which said they were “not off the hook” even as it agreed to consider their apologies.

A Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah – which had on April 10 refused to accept their affidavits of “unconditional” apologies – asked the duo to appear in person before it again on April 23 when it will decide the next course of action.

“We are not saying we will forgive you. We can't be blind to your history… We will think about your apology. You are not so innocent that you were completely unaware of what was going on…” the Bench said after having a brief interaction with both Ramdev and Balkrishna during which Patanjali Ayurved co-founders apologised to the court for the lapses on their part.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi — who represented the Yog guru and Patanjali Ayurved Managing Director Balkrishna — suggested that the proposed contemnors would publish a public apology in newspapers.

However, while dictating the order, the Bench left it to Ramdev and Balkrishna to publish such a public apology or to take some other steps unilaterally on their own initiative to prove their bona fides.

“At this moment, we are not saying they're off the hook… We will decide what to do…,” the Bench told Rohtagi.

As Ramdev tried to explain his position and said that Patanjali Ayurved had done lots of research, the Bench told Ramdev that he did not have any right to denigrate Allopathy or any other medicine system.

At one point the Bench took exception to Balkrishna's statement that Ramdev had nothing to do with the case, saying “You are trying to justify it”.

While hearing Indian Medical Association's petition seeking to control the alleged smear campaign and negative advertisements against the Covid-19 vaccination drive and modern medicines, the Bench had earlier noted that prima facie the company has violated the November 21, 2023 undertaking given to the top court.

On November 22, 2023, Ramdev had held a press conference in Haridwar and the company had issued an advertisement on December 4, 2023, alleged violation of the November 21, 2023, undertaking.

The Supreme Court had on April 10 refused to accept “unconditional” apologies tendered by Patanjali Ayurved co-founders Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna tendering over publication “misleading” advertisements, saying they deliberately violated its orders and tendered apologies only after being “caught on the wrong foot”.

“We do not accept these affidavits. We decline to accept or condone it. We consider it a wilful and deliberate violation of the order and breach of the (November 21, 2023) order passed in the undertaking…(We) don't think your writing, unconditional multiple times in the affidavit is enough to satisfy this court. This was a deliberate violation of the order,” the Bench had told Rohatgi.

“The apologies that are on record are on paper…having been caught on the wrong foot and noticing that their back is actually against the wall… and having gone to town saying all sorts of things on the very next day of the order passed where your own counsel had given undertakings,” the Bench had said on April 10.

“An apology tendered under duress of adverse orders is to be rejected outright”, Justice Amanullah had said.

The top court also pulled up the Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority for its inaction on misleading advertisements by Patanjali Ayurved and Divya Pharmacy and asked two of their officials to file affidavits explaining their conduct. “We will rip you apart,” the Bench told the officials, warning them that it will not take the matter lightly.

However, the strong comments from the Bench were disapproved of by many retired judges.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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