Editorial 4 April 2024:

Editorial 4 April 2024:

Dangerous Game:

On Patanjali Ayurved’s Claims:

In February this year, the Supreme Court of India issued a contempt notice against Patanjali Ayurved for publishing misleading advertisements that were in direct violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 and its Rules despite the company’s assurance to the Court in November last year that it would not do so. On Tuesday, the apex court turned up the heat by threatening Patanjali’s co-founder Baba Ramdev with perjury proceedings in addition to contempt. The two-member Bench again came down heavily on the government, this time for turning a blind eye when the company was promoting its products as a panacea during the COVID-19 pandemic, in blatant violation of the Act. While the Court has asked the government to file an affidavit to dispel the impression that it was complicit, the fact is that the government did almost nothing to inform the people that Coronil was not a “cure” for COVID-19 — as claimed by the company in June 2020 — but only a “supporting measure in COVID-19”. In February 2021, the presence of Harsh Vardhan, then Union Health Minister, along with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, at a press conference organised by Patanjali to promote Coronil, made the company’s claims sound very credible.

Emboldened by the absence of penal action by the courts or the government for the false claim that Coronil could cure COVID-19, the company went on an advertisement spree in 2022 claiming that its products could cure many non-communicable diseases and conditions. The advertisements also denigrated and derided evidence-based medicine (allopathy). On November 21, 2023 the Court warned the company not to advertise permanent cures and threatened to impose a penalty of ₹1 crore on every product for which such claims were made. But, in absolute defiance, the company held a press conference the next day to defend its products. In December last year and January 2024, cocking a snook at the Court, the company again issued newspaper advertisements, compelling the Court to issue a contempt notice in February. It is highly unlikely that the company could have continued to act this way in the absence of at least tacit support from the government at the Centre and in Uttarakhand, where the company is based. Independent of the Court, the absence of any restraining order by the government to stop the company from freely advertising highly misleading claims only strengthens the suspicion. In matters related to health and medicine, the government playing favouritism can be extremely dangerous and harmful. Allowing commercial interests to override public health and safety can be perilous.

Meaning of important Words:

contemptrefers to a feeling or attitude of disdain, scorn, or disrespect towards someone or something.
perjuryrefers to the act of deliberately lying or making false statements while under oath or affirmation, typically in a court of law or in a legal document such as an affidavit.
panaceais a term that refers to a remedy or solution that is believed to cure all ailments or problems.
Emboldenedis an adjective that describes someone or something that has been given courage, confidence, or determination
denigratedis the past tense form of the verb “denigrate.” It means to criticize or speak derogatorily about someone or something, often with the intention of damaging their reputation or diminishing their value.
deridedis the past tense form of the verb “deride.” It means to ridicule, mock, or express contempt for someone or something in a scornful or disrespectful manner.
defianceis a noun that refers to the act of openly resisting or challenging authority, rules, norms, or expectations.
tacitis an adjective that describes something that is understood or implied without being explicitly stated.
suspicionis a noun that refers to a feeling or belief that someone or something is possibly guilty of wrongdoing, dishonesty, or harmful intentions, often without sufficient evidence or proof.

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