In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court has raised concerns over the Central government’s inaction in invoking the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules of 1945 against Patanjali Ayurved for airing misleading advertisements. The Court’s scrutiny comes in response to a 2023 letter from the AYUSH Ministry instructing State governments not to take action under Rule 170 of the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
The Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah expressed bewilderment at the Central government’s stance, particularly in light of its earlier commitments to combat misleading advertisements. The Court highlighted the apparent contradiction between the government’s stated efforts to address such ads and its decision to inhibit the enforcement of Rule 170, which pertains to actions against misleading advertisements.
Justice Amanullah raised pertinent questions regarding the legality and propriety of the government’s actions, querying whether withholding the enforcement of a law while in power constitutes a colorable exercise of power and a violation of the law. This scrutiny underscores the Court’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring accountability in the exercise of governmental powers.
Moreover, Justice Kohli’s observation regarding the prioritization of revenue over regulatory enforcement underscores the broader implications of the case. It raises concerns about the potential influence of commercial interests on governmental decision-making processes and the need for impartial and principled governance in matters affecting public health and consumer rights.
The Court’s remarks also shed light on the broader societal implications of misleading advertisements, particularly in the context of healthcare products. The juxtaposition of such ads with news coverage, as noted by Justice Amanullah, highlights the pervasive nature of misleading advertising and its potential to undermine public trust and safety.
This legal confrontation between the judiciary and the executive branch underscores the vital role of independent oversight in ensuring compliance with regulatory frameworks and safeguarding public welfare. It serves as a reminder of the judiciary’s duty to hold government accountable for its actions and to uphold the principles of justice and fairness.
Moving forward, the Supreme Court’s intervention in this matter is expected to prompt a reevaluation of the Central government’s approach to regulating misleading advertisements and enforcing relevant laws. It underscores the imperative for transparent and effective governance mechanisms that prioritize public interest over narrow commercial considerations.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s questioning of the Centre’s failure to enforce Drugs and Cosmetics Rules against Patanjali Ayurved reflects a broader commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring accountability in governance. This legal scrutiny serves as a critical reminder of the judiciary’s role in safeguarding public welfare and underscores the importance of regulatory enforcement in protecting consumer rights and promoting public health.

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