The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to restrain yoga guru Baba Ramdev's "free speech" on allopathic medicines and Patanjali's Coronil.
A single-judge bench of Justice C Hari Shankar was hearing a suit filed by Delhi Medical Association (DMA), accusing Ramdev of falsely representing Coronil as a cure for Covid-19 and spreading misinformation about modern medicine, or allopathy.
"It is an opinion..any case founded on prayer for blocking statements has to be tested on anvil of art 19(1)(a).. there is a right.. terminology may be offensive.." the judge said.
Though the court advised Ramdev not to speak about the efficacy of modern medicine until the next hearing, it said the yoga guru was entitled to his opinion under free speech laws.
The judge said, "If I feel some science is fake.. tomorrow I feel homeopathy is fake.. do you mean they will file a suit against me?.. It is public opinion.. Ramdev is a person..he doesn't have faith is allopathy. He believes everything can be cured by Yoga and Ayurveda. He may be right or wrong.."
"I don't think your allopathic profession is so fragile..Someone has a view that it is because of inefficacy of allopathic medicines that so many people have died..I think it comes within Art 19(1)(a)," the judge added.
Senior Advocate Rajiv Dutta, appearing for the DMA told the Court that it was a suit for civil rights of doctors. He said that Ramdev was falsely representing Coronil as a cure for COVID-19.
Dutta also pointed out that the Union Health Ministry had made a statement that Coronil was not a cure for COVID-19 and could not be advertised as such. Following which, Ramdev later clarified that it was an immunity booster.
Dutta claimed that Patanjail had made Rs 25 crore from Coronil sales, after it was touted as a cure for COVID-19.
The court suggested the plaintiff association to file a PIL instead of a plea.
"Any case founded on a pray to block statements must be tested on the anvil of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression," the court said.
After hearing the parties, the Court issued summons in the plea to inter alia restrain Baba Ramdev from disseminating false information on Patanjali's Coronil, touted as a treatment for COVID-19.
The Court said that it would issue a notice in the matter. The suit will be listed for maintainability in three weeks' time.
The matter will be next heard on July 13.