Unconditional apology tendered to apex court published widely: IMA president to SC

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R V Asokan Supreme Court

Indian Medical Association (IMA) president R V Asokan (File image)

New Delhi: Indian Medical Association (IMA) president R V Asokan told the Supreme Court on Tuesday his unconditional apology to the apex court over his "damaging" statements in an interview to PTI, where he had answered queries about Patanjali Ayurved Ltd's misleading advertisements case, has been published in various publications.

The IMA's counsel told a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Sandeep Mehta that his unconditional apology has been published in the association's monthly publication, on the IMA's website, as also by PTI.

"Last time, I (Asokan) had submitted an affidavit of apology. Your lordships were of the opinion that the apology should be given proper publicity like the interview...," senior advocate P S Patwalia, appearing for the IMA, told the bench.

He said the IMA has a monthly publication, and on its first page, a full page advertisement says that Asokan has apologised, expressed regret to the apex court and has submitted his affidavit tendering unconditional apology.

Patwalia said if the IMA's website is opened, the apology comes immediately as a pop-up.

"Third, I have sent the apology to the PTI news. PTI has published it," he said, adding that the same has been shared with other media houses as well. "Where is your publication in PTI?" Justice Kohli asked Patwalia, who then referred to the news published by PTI.

"The deponent (Asokan) has also conveyed his unconditional apology and regret expressed to this court in the deponent's affidavit to the same news agency to whom the interview had been given by the deponent on April 29," he said, adding the unconditional apology was reported in various news publications.

The bench asked senior advocate Balbir Singh, who was appearing for Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, whether they have seen the additional affidavit filed by Asokan.

"Balbir Singh, senior advocate appearing for the respondents, states that the respondents may be permitted to peruse the affidavit and assist the court on the next date of hearing," the bench noted in its order and posted the matter for further hearing on August 6.

The bench told Singh, "If you want to file a reply, its okay. You don't need to file a reply. It is really between the court and the party but you can assist the court in whatever way you want to." Patwalia told the bench that Asokan was personally present in the court and he may be exempted from personal appearance.

"He is exempted for the present from appearance," the bench said, while granting the request.

During the hearing on May 14, the bench had posed some tough question to Asokan over his "damaging" statements against the court in an interview to PTI and said, "You cannot sit on a couch giving an interview to the press and lampooning the court." The court had then made it clear that it will not accept his affidavit tendering apology at that stage.

Expressing displeasure over Asokan's comments a day before the top court was slated to the hear the matter, it had sought his response on an application filed by Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, which had urged the court to take judicial notice of the statements made by him.

In an interaction with PTI editors on April 29 for its programme '@4 Parliament Street,' the IMA president had said it was "unfortunate" that the Supreme Court criticised the association and also some of the practices of private doctors.

Asokan was replying to a query about the Supreme Court's observations during a hearing on April 23, when it had said while it was pointing one finger at Patanjali, the remaining four fingers were pointed towards IMA. The top court is hearing a plea filed in 2022 by the IMA alleging a smear campaign by Patanjali against the Covid vaccination drive and modern systems of medicine.