The Ayurvedic pharma brand, Patanjali, has become a center for revolving controversies recently. The brand’s inappropriate introduction of its allegedly tested medicine “Coronil kit” has invited a lot of criticism and legal action.
On 23rd June 2020, Patanjali launched ‘Coronil and Swasari’ as parts of its ‘Coronil kit’ claiming that the medicines signified 100% favorable results for curing the COVID-19 infection during clinical trials. Later, on the same day, the Ministry of AYUSH clarified that it was unaware of the facts of the claim and details of the stated scientific study. As a result, the government asked the Uttarakhand based company to stop making such claims and submit the medicines for government verification and approval.
Now a complaint has been filed in Patiala House Court in Delhi which seeks registration of FIR against Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. for making a “false claim” in the media alleging that a cure for COVID-19 has been found with the intention to cause “wrongful gain” to themselves. The petition has been filed under Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (Police officer’s power to investigate Cognizable cases) by Advocate Tushar Anand before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. The matter has been listed for hearing on 3rd July 2020.
The petitioner has claimed that with the alleged claims of COVID-19 cure, Yog Guru Baba Ramdev, Acharya Balkrishna, Swami Muktanand, and Swami Shankerdev conspired to spread the infection of disease dangerous to life. It explained that the conspiracy relied on misrepresentation for alluring innocent followers and consumers to buy the Coronil kit and thereby gaining profits.
Furthermore, it stated that the police has not registered an FIR against the accused persons for committing offenses under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy)read with Section 270 (Malignant Act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), Section 420 (cheating) and Section 504 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The petition claims that other provisions pertaining to Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 have not been complied with despite the clear mandate of Lalita Kumari v Govt. of U.P. &Ors. from 2014.
Moreover, the petition submitted that the police cannot avoid its duty of registering FIR if a cognizable offense has been disclosed to it. It pointed out that registering a FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. In the case of Lalita Kumari, the Supreme Court specified that if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offense and no preliminary inquiry is permissible for registering a FIR in such a situation.
The petition has been drafted by Advocates Lalit Valecha, Manu Prabhakar, Sadaf Iliyas, Abhinav Meena from Evision Legal Solution LLP, New Delhi. Uttarakhand HC has also issued a notice to the central government regarding this issue of false advertisement and a plea has also been filed in Bihar against Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna.