Supreme Court’s Contempt Notice to Patanjali: An Analysis




In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court of India has taken a noteworthy step against Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd., a prominent player in the Indian consumer goods market, for allegedly disseminating misleading advertisements. The issuance of a contempt notice by the apex court highlights the paramount importance of truthfulness and accuracy in advertising, indicating a resolute stance against deceptive marketing practices. The controversy surrounding Patanjali’s advertisements has surfaced against the backdrop of India’s fiercely competitive consumer market, characterized by companies vying for consumer attention through diverse marketing strategies. Over recent years, Patanjali has risen as a significant contender in the FMCG sector (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods), leveraging its emphasis on Ayurveda and natural ingredients. Nonetheless, concerns have been raised regarding the veracity of some of its promotional assertions.

Contempt Notice

During the hearing of a writ petition brought by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) against Patanjali, the court initially contemplated imposing a blanket ban on all Patanjali’s product advertisements. However, considering Patanjali’s extensive product range and the potential impact on business interests, the court limited the restrictions to advertisements related to diseases and ailments under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954, for the time being.

The Supreme Court served a contempt notice to Patanjali and its director Acharya Balkrishna for allegedly violating a commitment made to the court, which prohibited them from releasing any advertisements regarding their drugs and from making statements against any medical system. This decision followed the presentation of evidence by the IMA in court, including a Patanjali advertisement in ‘The Hindu’ newspaper and a press conference where the company claimed to have completely cured sugar and asthma through yoga. The court found Patanjali in violation of the previous court order, which prohibited the company from disseminating misleading advertisements and making false claims. In its ruling dated November 21, 2023, the Court criticized Patanjali for persisting in publishing deceptive claims and advertisements against modern medical systems and sternly warned of imposing a fine of ₹1 crore if such practices continued.

As of March 2024, Patanjali had issued an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court for airing “misleading” advertisements. This action comes after the court summoned Patanjali’s co-founder Baba Ramdev and managing director Acharya Balkrishna to personally appear before it on April 2, 2024, to explain their failure to respond to the contempt notice issued against them and the company regarding deceptive advertisements about medicinal cures. The court on April 2, 2024, disapproved the affidavits provided by Patanjali and gave the company a last opportunity to file a better response to the contempt proceedings within one week.


The Supreme Court’s intervention arises from petitions alleging Patanjali’s involvement in misleading advertising, wherein exaggerated claims regarding the efficacy and benefits of its products were purportedly made. Such advertisements not only deceive consumers but also potentially erode public trust in advertising standards and product authenticity. The court’s decision to initiate contempt proceedings underscores its commitment to safeguarding consumer rights and fostering fair competition in the marketplace.

Misleading advertisements bear extensive ramifications, impacting not only consumer choices but also public health and safety. Particularly concerning are Patanjali’s products, often encompassing healthcare and wellness items, where false or exaggerated claims could lead consumers to rely on products that may not deliver the promised benefits, posing risks to public health, especially regarding medical conditions or wellness treatments.

The legal action against Patanjali mirrors a broader global trend of holding corporations accountable for their marketing practices. Regulatory bodies and judicial authorities worldwide are increasingly scrutinizing advertisements for accuracy and transparency, imposing penalties on companies found guilty of deceptive advertising. In India, the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 empowers consumers to seek redressal against misleading advertisements, emphasizing the importance of ethical advertising practices.

The contempt notice issued to Patanjali serves as a wake-up call for companies to exercise prudence and responsibility in their marketing communications. It emphasises the need of strong regulatory supervision and enforcement tools to prevent misleading advertising practices and protect consumer interests. Furthermore, it sends a clear message to other companies that misleading advertising will not be condoned and may result in severe consequences.


The Supreme Court’s intervention reaffirms its role as a guardian of justice and fairness in society. By holding corporations accountable for their actions, including their advertising practices, the court upholds the principles of accountability and transparency in corporate governance. It further reinforces the notion companies have a duty not just to their shareholders, but also to the larger community, which includes customers and society as a whole.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s issuance of a contempt notice to Patanjali for misleading advertisements underscores the significance of ethical advertising practices and consumer protection. It sends a robust message to companies that deceptive marketing will not be tolerated and may result in serious legal repercussions. This case serves as a reminder of the necessity of candour, openness, and integrity in advertising, which are critical components for establishing trust and credibility in the marketplace.

By adhering to ethical advertising standards, companies can not only avoid legal entanglements but also contribute to a more enlightened and empowered consumer base, fostering a healthier and more competitive market environment. As the legal proceedings unfold, it remains to be seen how Patanjali and other companies will respond to the court’s scrutiny, thus shaping the future landscape of advertising regulation and consumer protection in India.


Authors: Urvashi Joshi & Malabika Boruah


Interns and Paralegals.


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