Bharat Express

Battle Between Ayurveda and Allopathy: Unraveling the Legal Saga of Baba Ramdev and Patanjali

In essence, the legal tussle between Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali and the allopathic medical establishment underscores deeper systemic issues within India’s healthcare landscape.

In a contentious advertisement titled “Misconceptions Spread By Allopathy: Save Yourself And The Country From The Misconceptions Spread By Pharma And Medical Industry,” Patanjali stirred a storm of controversy. The ad aimed at various ailments, asserting that allopathic treatments offered by the pharmaceutical and medical industries only perpetuate dependency on medications without providing permanent cures. Patanjali claimed to offer Ayurvedic remedies free from side effects, promising complete recovery without a lifetime of medication dependency.

However, these claims were met with fierce opposition from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, who accused Baba Ramdev of denigrating allopathy as a “stupid and bankrupt science.” The allegations further extended to Ramdev’s purported remarks about allopathic medicines’ role in Covid-19 fatalities and his discouragement of COVID-19 vaccinations. The IMA decried what they termed as a relentless campaign of misinformation against the pharmaceutical and medical industries, accusing Patanjali of making false claims about curing diseases through its products.

The legal battle ensued with the IMA filing a petition against Baba Ramdev in the Supreme Court in August 2022. The proceedings culminated in Justice Amanullah’s stern warning to Patanjali to cease claims of curing diseases and his threat to levy hefty fines for non-compliance. Despite the admonition, Patanjali persisted, prompting the Supreme Court to issue a contempt notice to Patanjali Ayurved and its Managing Director, Acharya Balakrishna, in February 2024.

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The saga continued with Patanjali failing to furnish a satisfactory response to the contempt notice, leading to a summons for Balakrishna and Ramdev’s personal appearance before the Court. The Uttarakhand government was also roped into the proceedings. Despite an initial apology from Balakrishna, the Court remained unyielding, dismissing it as mere lip service. Only after multiple apologies did the Supreme Court relent slightly, insisting on accountability for flouting its orders.

The legal framework underpinning the case draws upon the Drugs & Other Magical Remedies Act, 1954 (DOMA), Section 89 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, and a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of AYUSH and the Advertising Standards Council of India. Critics argue that these laws, heavily influenced by the allopathic medical establishment, stifle the promotion and validation of alternative systems like Ayurveda.

Drawing parallels with the Flexner Report of 1910 in the United States, which advocated for the dominance of allopathic medicine over traditional systems like naturopathy, critics contend that India’s DOMA 1954 similarly prioritizes allopathy while marginalizing Ayurveda. They advocate for a separate legal framework to govern Ayurvedic products, one that recognizes and validates their unique efficacy without the constraints of allopathic standards.

In essence, the legal tussle between Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali and the allopathic medical establishment underscores deeper systemic issues within India’s healthcare landscape, prompting calls for a more inclusive and equitable regulatory framework that respects the diversity of medical traditions.