Plea to remove PM photo from jab certificate dismissed. HC orders ₹1 lakh fine
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala high court on Tuesday dismissed a petition questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture on Covid-19 vaccination certificates and fined the petitioner ₹1 lakh while calling the plea “frivolous” and “politically motivated”. It said Modi is the country’s Prime Minister and not that of any political party or ideology and that such a petition was “not expected from a citizen”.
A single-judge bench of justice P V Kunhikrishnan said if the petitioner, Peter Myalparambhil, failed to pay the fine, the Kerala State Legal Service Authority can initiate recovery proceedings. The court said Myalparambhil wasted its valuable time and the fine is a message to those who come up with “frivolous pleas”.
“This is a frivolous petition filed with ulterior motives and I have a strong doubt that there is political agenda also to the petitioner. This is a publicity-oriented petition. Therefore, it is a fit case to be dismissed with a heavy cost,” the court said. It added when thousands of appeals, bail pleas, and civil suits are pending before it, such petitions waste judicial time. Earlier, the court gave time to Myalparambhil to withdraw the petition, but he insisted on continuing with the hearing.
While hearing the petition, the court earlier observed: “He (Modi) is our Prime Minister, not the PM of any other country. He came to power through mandate. Merely because you have political differences, you cannot challenge this. Why are of ashamed of our PM? 100 crore people do not have any issue with this, so why do you?”
Myalparambhil moved the court in October saying Modi’s photo on the certificates “has no substance, utility or relevance”. His lawyer, Ajit M Joy, called the vaccine certificate his private space and added he has certain rights over it. He said since the petitioner paid for the vaccine, the state cannot take undue credit for this. Joy called it a violation of his fundamental rights and said there should be an option to issue certificates without Modi’s image. He pointed out vaccination certificates of other countries do not have the images of their heads of the government.
Kunhikrishnan responded saying: “They may not be proud of their PM, but we are. He became the PM because of the mandate of the people. We may have different political opinions, but still, he is our PM.”
The Centre’s lawyer defended the use of Modi’s image along with his words and said they will help create general awareness and ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour.
During the previous hearing, Kunhikrishnan said the plea had larger implications and asked if someone comes with a plea to remove Mahatma Gandhi’s image from the currency notes, how can it be allowed. But Joy said Gandhi’s photo was printed on the notes as per the Reserve Bank of India’s regulations. He added Modi’s photo on vaccination certificates was not affixed on the basis of any statutory provision or rule.