HC rejects plea to remove PM’s picture from vaccination certificate

Judge says this is a frivolous petition filed with ulterior motives

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed a writ petition seeking a directive to remove the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from paid COVID vaccine certificates and imposed a cost of ₹1 lakh on the petitioner.

Dismissing the petition, Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan observed that “this was a frivolous petition filed with ulterior motives and I have a strong doubt that there is political agenda also to the petitioner”. The court added that it was a publicity-oriented litigation.

The court observed that once a Prime Minister was elected as per the Constitution, he was “the Hon’ble Prime Minister of our country and that post should be the pride of every citizen, whether the Prime Minister is ‘X’ or ‘Y’.”

When the country was facing a pandemic situation and the Prime Minister gave a message in the vaccination certificate with his photograph to boost the morale of the citizen, “I do not understand why the petitioner says before this court that it is an intrusion to his privacy,” the court added.

The court said if the petitioner did not want to see his Prime Minister or if he was ashamed to see the picture of his Prime Minister, “he can avert his eyes to the bottom side of the vaccine certificate”.

“The citizen need not be ashamed to carry a vaccination certificate with the photograph of the Prime Minister with a morale boosting message, especially in this pandemic situation. There is no infringement of a fundamental right or any other right like compelled viewing,” the court observed.

When the petition came up for hearing, Assistant Solicitor General of India S. Manu submitted that the photograph was carried along with a message and there was nothing wrong in giving a message by the Prime Minister to the nation through a vaccination certificate.

The court directed the petitioner to pay ₹1 lakh within six weeks to the Kerala State Legal Services Authority, which is helping poor genuine litigants.

The petition was filed by Peter Mayaliparambil from Kottayam, who claims to be a State-level master coach of the Jawaharlal Nehru Leadership Institute of New Delhi.

The Centre had no right to take the credit for the vaccination by inserting a photograph of the Prime Minister in the certificate issued to a paid vaccine recipient. It was a certificate issued merely to confirm the status of vaccination of a person. Campaign with government funds ought to be as far as possible content neutral, he contended.

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