Plea to remove PM’s photo a dangerous proposition: HC

The Kerala High Court has adjourned to November 23 the hearing on a writ petition seeking a directive to the Centre to remove the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the COVID-19 vaccination certificates given to paid vaccine recipients.

When the petition came up for hearing recently, Justice N. Nagaresh orally observed that the plea was ‘a very dangerous proposition.’ If tomorrow someone could come here and protest that they did not like Mahatma Gandhi and seek removal of his image from our currencies saying it was their blood and sweat and they did not want to see his face on it, what would happen then, the court asked.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi was printed on currency as per Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulations, while the Prime Minister's photograph was affixed not based on any statutory provision.

According to the petition, the photograph of the Prime Minister on the COVID-19 vaccination certificate did not have any utility. It was a certificate issued merely to confirm the status of vaccination of a person. The affixing of a photograph of the Prime Minister on the certificate had no relevance as could be seen from such certificates issued by other countries.

The messages or motivation printed in the certificate was irrelevant since the recipient of the certificate was already convinced of its utility and had taken the vaccination voluntarily. In fact, the messaging in a certificate was no more than ‘preaching to the converted.’

The petitioner also contended that he had already paid for his vaccination. As a result, he had not obtained any subsidy or largesse from the Government on his vaccination. In fact, it was the shortage of free vaccine slots that forced the petitioner to opt for the paid vaccination.

The State had no right to claim the credit 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.

The present COVID-19 campaign appears to be designed to garner a political advantage by projecting a positive image of the Prime Minister. This Government-sponsored campaign affected both the personal decision-making process and the decision taken by the petitioner as a voter, he said.

The Central Government counsel sought more time to file a statement.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 3:39:06 am |