Thiruvananthapuram The Kerala high court on Friday sent a notice to the Union government on a petition seeking a Covid-19 vaccination certificate without Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photo embossed on it.
The petitioner, M Peter, a resident of Kottayam, contended that the present vaccine certificate violates the fundamental rights of a citizen and sought a certificate without the photo of the Prime Minister.
Justice PB Suresh Kumar directed both the Union and the state governments to file their views in two weeks. The petitioner also produced vaccination certificates from different countries, including the United States, Indonesia, Israel and Germany, saying they all carried necessary information, not photos of their heads of government.
The petitioner, a frequent traveller, also said he has to carry the certificate with him to several places and the photo of the PM has “no substance, utility or relevance”.
In the petition filed through his counsel Ajit Joy, he said the fight against the pandemic has been converted into a public relations and media campaign and it gives an impression that it was a one-man show and the whole idea is to promote an individual and that too at the expense of the public exchequer. He said he has every right to carry a vaccine certificate without the photo of the PM.
“The photograph is a needless intrusion into the private space of the petitioner. The central government or the PM cannot claim to have done anything particular, but their duty,” he contended in the petition.
Earlier, the Union government defended its decision to include the photograph in the certificate, saying the PM’s image along with his words helps create general awareness and Covid-appropriate behaviour. When a question came up in the Upper house two months back, minister of state for health BP Pawar said it was ideal to promote awareness.
“Given the context of the pandemic, its evolving nature and the fact that following of Covid-appropriate behaviour has emerged as one of the critical measures for preventing the spread of the disease,” he said in a written reply, “the photograph along with his words reinforces the message for creating awareness and importance of following Covid-appropriate behaviour even after the vaccination. It was done in the larger public interest.”
The Congress and other opposition members had deplored the statement.