New Delhi- The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, issued summons to Baba Ramdev on a lawsuit by several doctors' associations for allegedly spreading misinformation against allopathy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the plea was not frivolous and a case for its institution was “definitely” made out.
Justice C. Hari Shankar granted four weeks to Ramdev to file his response to the suit.
The judge clarified that he was “not expressing any opinion” on the merits of the allegations in the plaint against the Yoga guru and the issue of grant of any relief, interim or otherwise, shall be looked into subsequently.
“I have seen the video clips (of Ramdev). From the perusal of the video clips, your client is scorning the allopathic treatment protocol. He has literally gone to scorn at the prescription of steroids, people going to hospitals. From the perusal of the clips, there is definitely a case for the institution of the suit. They (plaintiffs) may have nothing for an injunction but the case is not frivolous,” the judge told senior counsel Rajiv Nayar, appearing for Ramdev.
The senior lawyer said while he had no objections to the issuance of summons in the matter, he opposed the allegations made in the case.
"There are three parts to the suit—Coronil, defamation, and hesitancy against vaccination. The court may restrict notice to only defamation," Nayar urged the court.
"I am not passing any order. You file your written statement. Say there is no case," the judge responded.
“Permission to institute the suit is allowed. Let the plaint be registered as a suit. Let summons be issued in the suit,” the court ordered and posted the next hearing in January.
Apart from Ramdev, the summons was also issued and a response ought from Acharya Balkrishna and Patanjali Ayurveda on the suit.
The court also issued notice to social media platforms Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Three resident doctors' association of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Rishikesh, Patna and Bhubaneshwar as well as association of resident doctors, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh; union of resident doctors of Punjab (URDP); resident doctors' association, Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College, Meerut, and Telangana junior doctors' association, Hyderabad had moved the high court earlier this year.
They alleged that Ramdev was misleading and misrepresenting to the public at large that allopathy was responsible for the deaths of several people infected by COVID-19, and insinuating that allopathic doctors were causing the deaths of the patients.
Senior counsel Akhil Sibal, representing the associations, had argued that amid a pandemic, the Yoga guru made unsubstantiated claims on Coronil being a cure for COVID-19, contrary to the licence granted to the drug for merely being an “Immuno-booster”.
In their plea filed through advocate Harshavardhan Kotla, the associations had submitted that the yoga guru, who is a highly influential person, was sowing doubts in the minds of the general public concerning the safety and efficacy of not only allopathic treatments but also COVID-19 vaccines.
The plea alleged that the misinformation campaign was nothing but an advertisement and marketing strategy to further the sales of the product sold by Ramdev, including Coronil which claims to be an alternative treatment for COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the court had stated that the doctors' plea deserved consideration and could not be “thrown out” at the first stage as, at the present stage, it needed “to see if allegations in the plaint make out a case to be entertained”.
The court had on June 3 issued summons to Ramdev on a separate plea by the Delhi medical association in connection with his alleged statements against allopathic medicines and claims regarding Patanjali's Coronil kit.
The court had refused to restrain Ramdev at that stage saying the allopathic profession was not so fragile.
It had, however, orally asked Ramdev's counsel to tell him not to make any provocative statements.
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