IMA president tenders unconditional apology in SC for statements against apex court

Dr R V Asokan
Dr R V Asokan

New Delhi | Indian Medical Association (IMA) president R V Asokan on Tuesday tendered an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court and expressed regret for his statement against the apex court in an interview to PTI where he answered queries about Patanjali Ayurved Ltd's misleading advertisements case.

The matter came up for hearing before a bench of justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah which posed some tough questions to Asokan and made it clear that at this stage, the apex court will not accept his affidavit tendering unconditional apology.

In an affidavit filed in the top court, Asokan said he has realised his error that he ought not have made such statements in the interview when the matter was under consideration of the court.

"The deponent (Asokan) hereby tenders his unconditional apology and expresses regret for his statements in relation to the order dated April 23, 2024 passed by this court in the present writ petition," the affidavit said.

In its April 23 order, the apex court had observed it was of the opinion that IMA also needs to put its house in order.

"There are several complaints relating to the alleged unethical acts on the part of the members of the Association who are abusing the trust reposed in them by patients and not only prescribing prohibitively expensive medicines, but also recommending avoidable/unnecessary investigations as a part of the line of treatment, for purely extraneous considerations," the bench had said.

The top court is hearing a plea filed in 2022 by the IMA alleging a smear campaign against the Covid vaccination drive and modern systems of medicine.

It had on May 7 sought response from Asokan on an application filed by Patanjali Ayurved Ltd which urged that judicial notice be taken of the statements made by the IMA president in the interview.

In his affidavit, Asokan said he never had any intention to lower the majesty or dignity of the apex court or be disrespectful to the court in any manner whatsoever.

"At the outset, the deponent most humbly states that the deponent holds this court in the highest esteem and regard. The deponent has the utmost respect for this court and cannot even imagine to defy the orders of this court or do anything that tends to lower the majesty of this court," he said.

The IMA president said he should have refrained from making those statements in the interview covering various issues.

With reference to the observations made by the apex court in its April 23 order, Asokan said the IMA, being conscious and cognizant of complaints of unethical practices against some medical professionals, also takes steps for addressing this issue.

"The deponent submits that the IMA remains committed in regularly taking up activities/actions for further augmenting and strengthening adherence to the norms of ethics by all its members in undertaking their professional activities as allopathy medical professionals, and shall continue to do so, including by highlighting and addressing the concerns raised in the proceedings before this court," the affidavit said. During the hearing, Asokan, who was present in the court, tendered an unconditional apology to the bench and prayed for clemency.

"You cannot sit on a couch giving an interview to the press and lampooning the court," the bench told the IMA president.

The bench told senior advocate P S Patwalia, appearing for IMA, that at this stage, the court was not inclined to accept the affidavit of apology tendered by Asokan.

"We have taken a cue from what your lordships have observed. We need one chance, we will correct it," Patwalia said.

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing in July.

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.

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