Yoga guru seeks mercy from judges in misleading ads case

‘So sorry’: Baba Ramdev previously rejected criticism about traditional medicines. — Reuters

Popular Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev said he had made a mistake and apologised to a court for defying its orders to stop misleading advertisements that claim his traditional ayurvedic medicines can cure chronic diseases like diabetes.

Ramdev, dressed in a saffron- coloured robe, pleaded before two Supreme Court judges with folded hands and said he felt provoked to react after his firm Patanjali Ayurved’s hugely popular medicines were called “pseudo-science” by critics, but added that he was not justifying his action.

The Supreme Court has previously refused to accept two formal apologies from Ramdev and his firm’s co-founder Acharya Balkrishna, made through their lawyers, in the contempt case and also admonished the head of a state drugs regulator for not taking legal action against the firm.

“I want to say we made a mistake,” Ramdev told the judges in the packed courtroom.

“What we said at the time should not have been said.”

He added that millions of people follow him and he would be “mindful of these things going forward”.

The case against him relates to the Indian Medical Association’s allegations that Patanjali disparages conventional medicines and continued publishing the misleading ads.

Ramdev has a huge following in India and performs yoga on TV shows.

He repeated claims about his traditional medicines at a press briefing last year, a day after the court barred Patanjali from publishing such ads.

“You are doing good work in your field... don’t disparage allopathy,” Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah told Ramdev, referring to conventional treatments.

His lawyer Mukul Rohatgi told the court at the start of the hearing that Ramdev and the firm were ready to issue a public apology.

The court set April 23 as the next hearing date.

Ramdev has previously rejected criticism about traditional medicines and accused some doctors of spreading propaganda against their use.

He has also shared the stage with ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the past. — Reuters

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