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Supreme Court Rebukes Medical Body Chief

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The Supreme Court has come down heavily on the IMA chief for his remarks in an interview

New Delhi:

Coming down heavily on the Indian Medical Association (IMA) president for his remarks in an interview, the Supreme Court today said that while it is first one to uphold the freedom of speech, “there are times when there should be self-restraint”.

IMA president Dr RV Asokan is drawing fire from the Supreme Court for his remarks in an interview, during which he commented on the court’s ruling in the misleading ads case against Patanjali Ayurved, founded by Yoga guru Ramdev and his aide Balkrishna. In fact, IMA is the petitioner in the case against Patanjali for misleading claims about its products.

Pulling up Mr Asokan today, the bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice A Amanullah said, “We would have expected more sense of responsibility from you… you can’t vent your feelings against the court in the press like this. What made you go suddenly like this?”

Mr Asokan offered an unconditional apology. Justice Kohli replied, “Whether we should accept your statements after such damaging statements, you are the one who dragged the other side to the court, saying they are denigrating you, but when you are put to test…?”

The bench added that it is not happy with his affidavit. Questioning why he did not issue a public apology, the court asked, “Everything was written in black and white, why did you not make amends if you truly wanted to apologise? What did you do to redeem yourself after the interview? Tell us.”

“We are the first one to uphold the freedom of free speech. But there are times when there should be self-restraint. As IMA President, you should have had self-restraint. That’s the point! We didn’t see that in your interviews,” Justice Kohli said.

“Dr Asokan, you are also a citizen of this country. The amount of criticism judges face, why don’t they react? Because personally we don’t have much of an ego, we are magnanimous. We are entitled to take action, but very rarely we do,” Justice Amanullah added.

The bench said judges use their discretion with some sense of responsibility. “But that does not mean you go to town with this kind of comments. You cannot just sit on a couch and say anything about the court. What would you have done if other side made this kind of comments! You would have come running to this Court,” it said. The court said it is not convinced by the affidavit submitted by the IMA president, describing it as “too little, too late”.

When Senior Advocate PS Patwalia, appearing for the IMA president, urged the court for relief, Justice Kohli said, “What is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander … You can’t say anything and everything and then meekly say he fell in error. Are you saying he fell into some trap?”

The past few weeks have seen the tables turn in the case against Patanjali. Earlier, Ramdev and Balkrishna were admonished by the court over Patanjali’s ads that claimed to cure health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The court also rejected multiple apologies by the two. However, the IMA president’s interview has put the petitioner medical body in a spot and the court has pulled him up. The matter has been posted for next hearing on July 9.

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