By Quaid Najmi
Pune, Jan 6 (IANS): In a New Year jolt to Baba Ramdev, a Pune court has ordered the police to investigate a criminal complaint against the yoga guru and his business associate Acharya Balkrishna, who is Chairman of the consumer giant, Patanjali Ayurved, for their claims on their Covid-19 cure medicine 'Coronil'.
Junnar Court's Judicial Magistrate First Class P. V. Sapakal's order came in a private criminal plea lodged by a student-activist Madan Kurhe way back in June 2020, after the company had announced the purported cure to the deadly virus raging across the globe.
He directed the Junnar Police Station to conduct a probe under the CrPC's Section 202 and submit its report to the court by February 7, said Kurhe's lawyer Asim Sarode.
In the complaint, Kurhe had questioned Baba Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved's allegedly "illegal and false claims" in public about the purported medicine, 'Coronil' and trumpeting it as a cure for coronavirus.
This was the first case filed during the height of the Covid pandemic lockdown period against Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna and their company in Maharashtra, for their allegedly misleading and bizarre claims pertaining to Coronil, which was touted as a "100 percent cure" medicine.
Kurhe said that on June 24, 2020, when the country reeled under the first wave of the pandemic, he saw advertisements, reports, interviews of Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna claiming how they had developed an Ayurvedic cure for Covid-19, and contended that the Covid-19 symptomatic patients reportedly become asymptomatic within 3-15 days after consuming the ayurvedic formulation, which had been tested in clinical trials in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat.
The medicines were available in a corona kit priced at Rs 545, to be launched and sold all over India soon, he said.
Sarode pointed out that three months earlier, on April 21, 2020, the Centre's AYUSH Ministry had taken strong cognisance of all types of fly-by-night companies promising magical remedies for Covid-19 and banned them from publicising or selling their alleged cures to the gullible masses without proper clinical evaluations.
Following the uproar over Baba Ramdev's claims, the ICMR and the AYUSH Ministry stepped in by countering Patanjali Ayurved's claims of having conducted clinical trials on its new Ayurvedic products, 'Coronil' and 'Swasari'.
"When the country was tottering under a major health crisis and the Coronavirus pandemic, such false claims were made only with the intention to earn money from the fear-stricken people of India," argued Sarode.
The magistrate said that although the media events of Baba Ramdev took place in Delhi which was out of the jurisdiction of the Junnar court, but considering the nature of the offences, the police would investigate the case before concluding if there is need to proceed further in the matter.
"After the police report is received, the Hon' Junnar Court will decide whether to issue process in the matter against the accused. It's a classic case that ensures nobody is above the law and all must use the freedom of expression with restrictions and responsibilities," said Sarode.