And you? In Patanjali hearing, Supreme Court strikes down IMA for documents advocating expensive drugs

New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned up the heat on the Indian Medical Association (IMA), indicting it in the Patanjali misleading ads case and asking if it had taken any action against its members who allegedly recommend drugs with a excessive price and a certain line of treatment to patients.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah was hearing a contempt case against Patanjali founder Baba Ramdev and his associate Acharya Balkrishna for violating their promise not to disparage allopathic medicine.

The IMA had approached the high court asking Patanjali to stop its smear campaign against the Covid-19 vaccination campaign and modern medicine.

The judges said on Tuesday that the hearing would not be limited only to the actions of Patanjali, which is accused of violating the Magic Drugs and Remedies Act that bans the advertising of drugs intended to treat serious ailments such as blood pressure, heart problems , etc.

He told the counsel appearing for IMA that while the petitioner (association) is pointing fingers at the respondent (Patanjali)… other fingers are also pointing at you.

Justice Kohli said the IMA members have been busy approving drugs to patients left, right and centre. What are you doing to hold back the members of your association in the allopathic field is a question we must also ask you. This will not just be FMCG, there are you and your members who prescribe medicines based on the recommendations made for which valuable consideration is required. If that happens, why shouldn’t we target you? Justice Kohli asked.

The judges said IMA should also bring order to the house. There are several complaints regarding alleged unethical conduct by IMA. Abuse of your position by recommending very expensive drugs, alien drugs for valuable consideration. How many times has this been reported and how have you acted on it, the bench asked the IMA’s counsel, Senior Advocate PS Patwalia, who assured that he would come back with the necessary information in the next hearing.

Read also: The Patanjali ad case saw the rules being flouted. India needs to fix its Magic Remedies Act

The court widened the scope of the hearing by directing the Center to inform it what actions have been taken against FMCG companies in respect of fake advertisements of products such as food for babies, children and the elderly.

We need to make it clear that we are not here to root for a particular party, agency or authority. This is a PIL (public interest litigation) and it is in the best interest of the consuming public to know which way they are going and how and why they are being cheated and how the agencies are acting to prevent this misuse, they said the judges

In an indirect reference to the recent controversy surrounding a company that makes baby food products, the bank said: … after going through the kind of coverage that has recently come to light of misrepresented advertisements for things like baby food, children’s food, which we now understand is under Union control, the Union will have to tell us something about it.

The judges said they could not allow the public to take a ride, adding: These are children, babies. If this happens, the Union of India has to step in and so do the state licensing authorities under you. You can’t just shrug your shoulders and say I’ve taken the complaint to the state authority and it’s up to them to do what they’re doing.

On the contempt case against Patanjali, the top court was informed that the group had published advertisements in 67 newspapers on Monday offering an unreserved apology for the wrongdoings on its part.

Since the announcements were not recorded, the court granted him one more week to do so. The bank said it would like to physically see whether the ads were the same size as the ads the group ran.

(Edited by Tikli Basu)

Read also: Why Ramdev’s legal setback in Patanjali ads case is unlikely to shake BJP’s support for him

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