Kerala HC dismisses plea questioning Modi’s photo on Covid vaccine certificate

A division of bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly observed that the photo is not an advertisement and PM Narendra Modi has every right to give the people a message
A person shows a soft copy of the Covid-19 vaccine certificate in New Delhi. (Hindustan Times/ File)
A person shows a soft copy of the Covid-19 vaccine certificate in New Delhi. (Hindustan Times/ File)
Updated on Jan 25, 2022 05:15 PM IST
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala high court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal against a single bench order rejecting a petition questioning the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Covid-19 vaccine certificates. The single-judge bench also slapped a fine of 1 lakh on the petitioner.

A division of bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly observed that the photo is not an advertisement and PM Modi has every right to give a message.

In his petition, activist Peter Myaliparamphil challenged the inclusion of Modi’s photo on the certificates of those who paid for the vaccines. He argued the inclusion of the photo in the private certificate of an individual serves no public purpose or utility and violated the petitioner’s rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

Myaliparamphil contended the messaging and campaigns, especially when they use government funds, should not personify a leader such as the Prime Minister as he is the leader of a political party as well. He added this will affect his independent choice of voting, which has been recognised as the essence of the electoral system.

The bench rejected these contentions and agreed with the observation of the single bench that the Prime Minister has assumed the office in pursuant to the mandate of the citizens and once a person is appointed to the office, he ceases to be a leader of the party and is simply the Prime Minister. It also rejected the contention that the vaccine certificate may affect the petitioner’s right to vote.

The bench informed the petitioner that a detailed judgment will be uploaded later.

The petitioner moved the court in October questioning Modi’s photo on the vaccine certificates saying “it has no substance, utility or relevance”. He reiterated that the vaccine certificate was his private space and he has certain rights over it. Myaliparamphil said since he paid for the vaccine, the state cannot take undue credit for this. He pleaded that if the government insisted, there should be an option to issue certificates without the photo.

Myaliparamphil pointed out that vaccination certificates of other countries do not have the images of their heads of the government. But the single bench rejected the plea on December 21.

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Monday, May 23, 2022