Tables turned on Tuesday when the Supreme Court took stern exception to comments reportedly made by Indian Medical Association president RV Asokan in an interview about the court’s criticism of the practices of private doctors.

“After all this, you do this? The IMA has not covered itself with glory… How can you decide which way we (Supreme Court) should go?” Justice Hima Kohli asked the IMA lawyers.

The interview of Asokan with Press Trust of India was brought to the attention of a Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah by Patanjali Ayurved’s lawyer, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi.

The contempt proceedings against Patanjali Ayurved, its co-founder Baba Ramdev and his close associate Acharya Balkrishna were initiated in a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Legal Battle

The IMA had complained to the court about the blatant disregard shown by Patanjali to the Supreme Court and the field of allopathic medicine.

In the last hearing, on April 23, the Bench had turned to the IMA and said it would look into the phenomenon of inflated bills and doctors allegedly prescribing over-priced medicine brands in cahoots with pharmaceutical companies.

Rohatgi drew the court’s attention to Asokan’s interview in which he had said it was “unfortunate” for the court to have criticised the IMA. He had reportedly said the “vague and generalised statements” had demoralised private doctors.

The senior lawyer repeatedly pointed to the part where Asokan was quoted to have said that “it does not behove the Supreme Court to take a broadside against the medical profession of the country which after all sacrificed so many lives for the Covid war”.

Asokan had been replying to a query about the Supreme Court’s observations in its hearing on April 23 that when it was pointing one finger at Patanjali, the remaining four fingers were pointed towards IMA.

Rohatgi sought exemption for Ramdev and Balkrishna from appearing in court. The Bench allowed them a respite for the next date of hearing alone.