The Delhi High Court Thursday issued summons to yoga guru Ramdev on a plea accusing him of making statements against modern medicine and claiming Patanjali's Coronil kit is a cure for COVID-19. However, it refused to restrain him at this stage saying the medical profession was not so fragile.
The high court however orally asked Ramdev's counsel to tell him not to make any provocative statements.
“Mr Rajiv Nayar is a very respectable senior (advocate). I am sure his client will listen to him,” Justice C Hari Shankar said. The high court issued summons to Ramdev on the suit filed by Delhi Medical Association (DMA) and asked him to file a response in three weeks and listed the matter for hearing on July 13.
“Considerable time has passed since the passing of allegedly injurious statements. The counsel says defendant no. 1 (Ramdev) continues to make a statement. No injunctive order can be given without giving an opportunity to the plaint, especially in view of the objections. Issue summons on the suit,” Justice Shankar said.
The court also issued summons to social media platforms Twitter and Facebook and Astha channel, who are made parties to the petition. DMA, on behalf of its doctor members, submitted before the court that Ramdev's statement affects as Coronil medicine does not cure COVID-19 and it is misleading. It has claimed a token damage of Rs 1 from him.
On being asked by the court as to how did this statement affect the association, senior advocate Rajiv Dutta, representing DMA, said it affects because this medicine does not cure COVIS-19 and this was a suit for civil rights of doctors. The court said it cannot say as to whether Coronil is a cure or not and that it was something to be decided by medical experts.
The judge said he was "least concerned" with the association's argument that Ramdev was a powerful person having a large number of followers. “Ramdev is a person who doesn't have faith in modern medicine. He believes everything can be cured by Yoga and Ayurveda. He may be right or wrong," he said. He added that the court can understand it is argued his statements are affecting the public but here you say oh my God Ramdev has done something. You people should be spending time to find a cure for the pandemic instead of wasting the court's time.
On the point of locus of DMA to file the suit, Dutta said it was affecting the public and also the members of the association as the statements made in open affects and that Ramdev was calling this science fake. To this, the judge said, “If I feel some science is fake. Tomorrow I will feel homeopathy is fake. Do you mean they will file a suit against me? I put it on twitter. You will say take down the Twitter account. It is a public opinion. I do not think your allopathic profession is so fragile.” He added that it has to be tested on the touchstone of free speech.
The court said someone has a view that it is because of inefficacy of modern medicines that so many people have died and it was of the view that it comes under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
Senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, representing Ramdev, raised preliminary objection on the maintainability of the plea and argued that prima facie the suit was not maintainable as they are asking for an injunction and raising the ground of public good.
Dutta also said that Ayush Ministry had made a statement that Coronil was not a cure for COVID-19 and could not be advertised as such and had also asked Patanjali to give details after which Ramdev had clarified that it was an immunity booster.
The court noted that Ramdev has clarified and said with this clarification the entire grievance of DMA should have gone.
If this was mandatory on Patanjali (to give details and not to advertise) and if he acts in violation, it is for the Ayush Ministry to look into, Why are you carrying the torch, the court said.
DMA's counsel further claimed that Patanjali had made Rs 25 crore from Coronil sales, after it was touted as a cure for COVID-19 and that he has a vast following in the country.
The court said, "Is he to be blamed for people buying Coronil?" and suggested the association to file a public interest litigation instead of pursuing the suit.