The Delhi High Court on Friday sought Yoga guru Ramdev’s stand on a lawsuit against him by several doctors’ associations for allegedly spreading misinformation by his statements against allopathy amid the COVID-19 pandemic which purportedly amounts to public nuisance.
Justice Hari Shankar granted a week’s time to Ramdev to file his response and said that he would not grant leave for institution of the proceedings in the absence of a reply. Public nuisance has some consequences on the defendant. It is open to the defendant (Ramdev) to say that there is no case. Can’t say that I won’t give him an opportunity, the judge said.
Senior advocate Akhil Sibal, appearing for the associations, argued that to grant permission to institute the suit, the court has to only look at the plea before it and need not seek the other party’s response. It is between me and the court unless it (the plea) is evidently vexatious.. merits will come after I’m permitted, Sibal stated. Senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, representing Ramdev, said that the plea was a second bite at the cherry and opposed the grant of leave. The court granted time to Nayar to file his response and said They (Ramdev) will file a counter for revoking the leave (if) granted. We will put it next Friday. Let them file a reply.
The matter would be heard next on August 10. The associations before court are three Resident Doctors’ Association of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Rishikesh, Patna and Bhubaneshwar, 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.
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 deaths of the patients. In their plea filed through advocate Harshavardhan Kotla, the associations have submitted that the yoga guru was sowing doubts in the minds of general public with respect to the safety and efficacy of not only allopathic treatments but also COVID-19 vaccines. Being a highly influential person, it is apprehended that Ramdev’s statements can influence lakhs of people and divert them from allopathic treatment which are prescribed as the standard form of care even by the government, the plea submitted.
The associations alleged in the plea 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. With the third wave of COVID-19 likely to set in August, it is imperative that Ramdev’s sustained misinformation campaign be brought to a halt, the association has pleaded. The other defendants in the plea include Acharya Balkrishna and Patanjali Ayurveda.
The court had on June 3 issued summons to Ramdev on a 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.