Delhi High Court summons Ramdev but no gag now
Delhi High Court on Thursday issued summons to yoga televangelist Ramdev on a plea accusing him of making statements against allopathic medicines and at one point claiming Patanjali’s Coronil kit was a cure for Covid-19.
The court, however, refused to restrain him at this stage, saying the allopathic profession was not so fragile. The high court 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 a suit filed by the Delhi Medical Association (DMA) and asked him to submit his response in three weeks, listing the matter for hearing on July 13.
Ramdev had been seen in a widely circulated video saying that allopathy was a “stupid science” and claiming that lakhs of people had died after taking allopathic medicines. He had also claimed that drugs such as remdesivir and Fabiflu had failed to treat Covid. In response to calls for action against him, Ramdev had said “nobody’s father” would be able to arrest him. He has also been seen in videos ridiculing doctors, engineers and other professionals.
Justice Shankar said on Thursday: “Considerable time has passed since the passing of allegedly injurious statements. The counsel says defendant No. 1 (Ramdev) continues to make statements. 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, which have been made parties to the petition.
The DMA, on behalf of its doctor members, submitted before the court that Ramdev’s statement were misleading as Coronil does not cure Covid. The DMA has claimed a token damage of Rs 1 from him.
Senior advocate Rajiv Dutta, representing the DMA, said the claim had affected doctors as Coronil does not cure the coronavirus disease and this was a suit for the civil rights of doctors.
The court said it could not say as to whether Coronil was 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 is allopathy. He believes everything can be cured by yoga and ayurveda. He may be right or wrong,” Justice Shankar said.
He added that the court could understand the argument that Ramdev’s statements were 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 the locus of the DMA to file the suit, Dutta said Ramdev’s public statements against allopathy were affecting the public and also the members of the DMA.
The judge replied: “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.”
Justice Shankar said Ramdev’s comments had to be tested on the touchstone of free speech.
Senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, representing Ramdev, argued that prima facie the DMA suit was not maintainable as the association was asking for an injunction and raising the ground of public good.
Dutta said the Ayush ministry had stated 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 had issued a clarification and the DMA should no longer have a grievance on this count.
The DMA’s counsel further claimed that Patanjali had made Rs 25 crore from Coronil sales after it had been touted as a cure for Covid-19 and that Ramdev had a vast following in the country.
The court said: “Is he to be blamed for people buying Coronil?” It suggested that the DMA file a public interest litigation instead of pursuing the suit.