The court ordered Patanjali to pay the fine within one month. It also directed the district food safety department to take appropriate action if there is no improvement in the products in future.
HARIDWAR: A fine of Rs 11 lakh has been imposed on Yoga guru Ramdev’s company, PatanjaliAyurved Ltd, by a city court on charges of “misbranding and misrepresentation of its products.” In its order, the court of Lalit Narain Mishra, Haridwar’s additional district magistrate (ADM), found the company — which has rapidly diversified into various FMCG segments and is currently eyeing at doubling its revenues from the current Rs 5,000 crore to almost Rs 10,000 crore by the next financial year — guilty of “releasing misleading advertisements by selling certain products with its own labels although they were being manufactured by some other company.” Citing sections 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 ordered Patanjali to pay the fine within one month. It also directed the district food safety department to “take appropriate action if there is no improvement in the products in future.”
A case against the company was filed at the ADM’s court in November 2012 after samples of the company’s products including honey, salt, mustard oil, fruit jam and besan (gram flour) picked up for sampling on August 16, 2012, allegedly failed quality tests. The tests were conducted at Uttarakhand’s only FSSAI-certified drugs and food testing lab located at Rudrapur. The case had been ongoing ever since. The order regarding the fine imposed on the company was given by the court on December 1, but became public a day ago.
Elaborating on the order, Yogendra Pandey, Haridwar’s food safety department in-charge, told TOI, ” Patanjali has been found guilty of misbranding some of its products. The wrapper of the company’s mustard oil (kachchi ghani) said it was ‘Patanjali Ayurveda’s special product.’ But it was in fact manufactured at a company in Rajasthan. Patanjali has confessed the mistake and changed the wrapper. Keeping this in view, the fine in all six cases against the company has been reduced to a cumulative amount of Rs 11 lakh. Usually, the fine for a case of misbranding is Rs 3 lakh, releasing misleading advertisements leads to a penalty of Rs 10 lakh and substandard quality entails a fine of Rs 5 lakh.”
The judgment also quotes the report of the food analyst, Rudrapur, which says that “the samples picked for testing failed to clear quality tests.” However, it does not elaborate on the nature of the tests and the parameters on which the products were found lacking.
Reacting to the order, Acharya Balkrishna, managing director and primary stakeholder, Patanjali Ayurved, told TOI that the company’s products were “completely safe and their quality was unquestionable.” “I have not received the order yet, only heard about it. I think this is a political ploy to tarnish Patanjali’s image. We will react suitably to it,” he said.