New Delhi: Asserting that nobody should be misled against allopathy, the Delhi High Court Wednesday told Ramdev that while he was welcome to have his followers, he should not mislead the public by saying more than what is “official”. Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani, who was hearing a lawsuit against the yoga guru by several doctors’ associations for allegedly spreading misinformation concerning the use of Patanjali’s Coronil for COVID-19, said that his concern was also to save the good reputation of Ayurveda which is an ancient system of medicine.
“From the very beginning, my concern is only one. You are welcome to have your followers. You are welcome to have your disciples. You are welcome to have people who will believe whatever you say. But, please, do not mislead the public at large by saying more than what is official,” the judge stated. Several doctors’ associations moved to the high court last year, alleging that Ramdev was misleading and misrepresenting to the public at large that allopathy was responsible for the deaths of several people infected by COVID-19 while claiming that Coronil was a cure for the virus.
Senior advocate Akhil Sibal, appearing for the plaintiff associations, told the court that even recently, Ramdev made statements in public advertising Coronil as a treatment for COVID-19 and also suggesting the inefficacy of vaccines against the coronavirus. Sibal submitted that the license granted to Coronil “does not mention COVID-19 at all” and only speaks about it being an immunity booster and having Ayurvedic ingredients.
The court was informed that in certain statements by Ramdev, reference was also made to a leader of a foreign nation contracting COVID-19 even after being vaccinated. Justice Bhambhani expressed his concerns concerning “people being named” in the statements and said, “Leaders are being named which will affect our good relationships with foreign nations”.
The court, which had earlier granted time to Ramdev to come up with an acceptable clarification on the use of Coronil, said that while it would “head” in the direction of a “resolution” in the matter, it has concerns surrounding the damage to Ayurveda’s name and the public being misled against allopathy.
“My concern is to save the good name and reputation of Ayurveda as a system of medicine — our own ancient system of medicine. My aim is nobody should be misled against allopathy, also a well-recognised system of medicine,” the court said. The court also asked Ramdev’s lawyer if he was willing to not make any statements in relation to Coronil till the case is decided.
Senior advocate PV Kapur, appearing for Ramdev, said that the present litigation was motivated and the statements highlighted by the plaintiff were “prior to the last date of hearing” and that process has already been initiated to remove any reference to “treatment” or “cure” in relation to Coronil from their website concerned.
He also handed over a fresh draft of a possible public statement/
disclaimer to the court, which said that Coronil was not a cure but a supporting measure and that both fields of medicine should go hand-in-hand. Sibal said that the clarification was “still misleading” and stressed that Coronil was not a medicine and it is a supporting measure for mild cases.
Three Resident Doctors’ Association of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Rishikesh, Patna, and Bhubaneshwar as well as Association of Resident Doctors, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh; Union of Resident Doctors of Punjab (URDP); Resident Doctors’ Association, Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College, Meerut, and Telangana Junior Doctors’ Association, Hyderabad had moved the high court last year against Ramdev and others.
In their plea filed through advocate Harshavardhan Kotla, the associations had submitted that the yoga guru, who is a highly influential person, was sowing doubts in the minds of the general public concerning the safety and efficacy of not only allopathic treatments but also COVID-19 vaccines.
The plea alleged that the misinformation campaign was nothing but an advertisement and marketing strategy to further the sales of the product sold by Ramdev, including Coronil which claims to be an alternative treatment for COVID-19. The court listed the case for further hearing on August 23.