Why are you ashamed of our PM’s photo, HC asks

The high court asked a petitioner challenging inclusion of prime minister Narendra Modi’s photo on vaccination certificate why he is ashamed of it.

Justice PV Kunhikrishnan raised the question while considering a petition filed by Peter Myaliparambil of Kottayam seeking a directive to issue a vaccination certificate without the PM’s photo on it.

During the hearing, the court said, “He is our prime minister, not the prime minister of any other country. He came to power through our mandate. Merely because you have political differences, you cannot challenge this. Why are you ashamed of our PM? 100 crore people don’t seem to have an issue with this, so why do you? Everyone has different political opinions but he is still our prime minister. You are wasting judicial time.”

Petitioner’s counsel Ajit Joy submitted that his client had paid for the vaccination and the State has no right to claim credit by inserting a photograph of the prime minister in the certificate issued to him.

Citing a 2018 Supreme Court judgment (Common Cause vs Union of India), the counsel pointed out that the apex court had laid down guidelines for campaigns using public money. As per the guidelines, no individual can be credited for the launch of an initiative or be celebrated for achievements of a certain policy of the State on government expense, and this includes the prime minister, the counsel argued.

Further, he argued that no public purpose or utility is served by the PM’s photograph on the vaccination certificate. The certificate is the private space of an individual with one’s personal details and it is not a place for public campaigning, the counsel submitted.

The court said it will consider the pleadings in detail with an open mind and decide it on merits.

Producing copies of vaccination certificates issued in USA, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, France and Germany, the petitioner has contended before the court that the certificates issued by these countries only contain necessary information and nothing else. The petitioner has to carry the certificate with him to several places and the photo of the prime minister in the certificate has no utility or relevance, the petition had said while alleging that the national campaign against Covid-19 is being converted into a media campaign for the prime minister.

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