Uttarakhand SLA, Ayush Ministry Stalled Action Against Patanjali: RTI Activist

New Delhi: The Uttarakhand state licensing authority did not register any case against the Ramdev-founded Patanjali Ayurveda company despite the fact that the company violated the SLA’s repeated written missives, ophthalmologist Dr K.V. Babu – who has pursued the case for two years – has said.

A day after the Supreme Court – in no uncertain terms – told off the Uttarakhand government over its inaction when it came to misleading ads released by Patanjali and rejected Patanjali’s apologies, Times of India interviewed Babu.

The doctor and Right to Information activist told the paper that the Union government’s Ayush ministry had received several complaints against Patanjali and would forward these to the Uttarakhand SLA each time. Although Patanjali had claimed in May 2022 to have stopped circulating the misleading ads, in July, it released ads for five drugs, peddling all of them as cures for diabetes, glaucoma, goitre, blood pressure issues and cholesterol.

This violates the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules, 1945, Babu said. Both laws prohibit a medicine from being called a ‘cure’ to some diseases. Conviction under the former can lead to prison sentences of up to a year or more and a fine.

Babu adds that while the SLA would write to Patanjali against the violations, prompted by Babu’s letters, it would stop short of filing cases.

Babu makes it clear that the SLA took up a mild treatment of Patanjali and show caused it under a rule – Rule 170 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act – which was sub judice. The Ayush ministry, too, concurred that no action could be taken under this rule. However, offences were clearly made out and complaints had been filed under the DMR Act and not the DCA Act, Babu said.

Babu, in the interview, explains a chronology that seems to illustrate that the SLA and Ayush ministry stalled action against Patanjali.

Babu also noted that the company had assumed that the Supreme Court would be comparable in tolerance to the misleading ads as the Ayush ministry and Uttarakhand SLA. Babu said that he himself had been moved to act in the case after seeing that a friend’s mother who had switched to Patanjali medicines for glaucoma grew worse.

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