Patanjali Ayurved, the shining example of a successful ‘Made in India’ FMCG brand, which is threatening to wipe out existing billion dollar FMCG global biggies, has just experienced its first major public embarrassment.
A Haridwar Court has slapped a fine of Rs 11 lakh on Patanjali Ayurved for misleading advertisements, and this judgement can actually pave the way for more such penalties and fines, considering the growing number of consumer complaints against them and other companies which have been dishonest about their advertisements.
Why Was Patanjali Fined?
A case was filed against Patanjali way back in 2012, whose judgement was now delivered by the Haridwar Court.
On August 16, 2012, Haridwar health department’s food safety division took few samples of Patanjali’s honey, mustard oil, pineapple jam, gram flour and iodized salt and sent them to Uttarakhand’s one and only FSSAI-certified drugs & food testing lab located at Rudrapur.
The product tests report failed as the products were not manufactured by Patanjali Ayurved, but instead were procured from somewhere else, and then re-packaged under Patanjali’s brand name.
A case was lodged at Haridwar Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Court against the Patanjali Ayurved (because they are also Haridwar based)
The case was fought for 4 years, and finally, the Court of Lalit Narain Mishra, Haridwar’s additional district magistrate found Patanjali guilty.
Laws Which Patanjali Broke
The Court declared that Patanjali has misinterpreted the origin of their products, and convicted them for misbranding their products via false advertisements.
The fine of Rs 11 lakh was imposed under Section 52 (misbranding) and Section 53 (misleading advertisement) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 as well as Section 23.1 (5) of Food Safety and Standard (Packaging and Labelling Regulations, 2011) Act.
The court found Patanjali Ayurved guilty of “releasing misleading advertisements by selling certain products with its labels although they were being manufactured by some other firm.”
Haridwar Food Safety Officer Yogendra Pandey under whom the samples were taken in 2012 and sent for tests, said, “The case went on for four years and on December 1, the ADM court asked Patanjali Ayurved to pay Rs. 11 lakh as fine for indulging in misbranding and misleading advertising,”
Court has directed Patanjali to pay the fines within a month, and have asked the Govt. agencies to monitor Patanjali’s products closely for any other violations.
Interestingly, when Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) found some advertisements of Patanjali as misleading, and uncompetitive, then Baba Ramdev had declared ASCI as unconstitutional body, and had threatened to sue them for defamation.