India cracks down on guru’s ‘cure’ ads

India cracks down on guru’s ‘cure’ ads

Court says celebrity yoga teacher’s company made misleading claims for ayurvedic medicines

Patanjali Ayurved products (centre) are displayed at a store in New Delhi. (Photo: Bloomberg)
Patanjali Ayurved products (centre) are displayed at a store in New Delhi. (Photo: Bloomberg)

NEW DELHI - India's top court has barred the giant consumer goods firm Patanjali Ayurved, co-founded by one of country's most popular yoga gurus, from publishing advertisements for its ayurvedic medicines that claim to cure some diseases.

The Supreme Court order was issued on Tuesday in an ongoing legal dispute with the Indian Medical Association, which has accused Patanjali of disparaging other forms of conventional medicines.

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who co-founded Patanjali, has denied the criticism and accused some doctors of spreading propaganda against traditional medicines, which are hugely popular in India.

Patanjali did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The court said Patanjali violated its assurance to judges last year in the ongoing case that it would not publish advertisements that make "casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy".

The order came after a lawyer for the Indian Medical Association told the court that Ramdev's firm had continued to publish newspaper advertisements claiming to offer a "permanent solution" for conditions, such as blood pressure, asthma and diabetes.

The judges also asked Patanjali to explain why it should not initiate contempt of court proceedings against the company.

Patanjali was co-founded by Ramdev in 2006. He has a huge fan following in India and offers yoga “cures” for many illnesses through his TV shows.

Patanjali sells personal-care products and ayurvedic medicines, but has often faced the ire of doctors and consumer protection activists, who accuse the firm of making incorrect assertions about medicinal efficacy.

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