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Kerala HC seeks Centre’s view on plea questioning PM Modi’s photo in Covid vaccination certificate

The petitioner, who is a senior citizen and an RTI activist, said that he received a paid vaccination certificate from a private hospital which includes proof for the vaccination and a photo of PM Modi along with a message.

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The Kerala High Court on Friday issued notice to both the state government and the Central government over a petition questioning the significance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph in the Covid vaccination certificate.

The single-judge bench of Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar directed the Union and state governments to submit their views within two weeks.

The petition was filed by M. Peter, a resident of Kottayam, contending that the present vaccine certificate violates the fundamental rights of a citizen and sought a certificate without the photo of the Prime Minister. A senior citizen and an RTI activist, the petitioner said he received a paid vaccination certificate from a private hospital, which includes proof of the vaccination and a photo of Modi along with a message.

The petitioner argued that attaching the PM’s photo with the Covid vaccination certificate would not bring any public interest and removing this photo will not harm any policy of either the state or the Central government.

Filed through Advocate Ajit Joy, the plea contended that the fight against the pandemic was converted into a public relations and media campaign and it gave an impression that it was a one-man show. The petitioner further said he has every right to carry a vaccine certificate without the photo of the PM.

Producing copies of vaccination certificates issued in the US, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, France and Germany, the petitioner contended the certificates issued by these countries only contain necessary information and nothing else.

According to the petitioner, the state is obliged not to force a hearing from an unwilling audience while speaking to a detained audience. In other words, the petitioner has the right to freedom of speech under Article 19 which also protects him from being compelled to hear something or any thing he doesn’t wish to.

The government costs could not allow the initiative to begin or celebrate the achievement of certain state policies, the petitioner argued, quoting Common Cause v Indian Union [WP (Civil) No 13 of 2003.

He also stated in the petition that changes must be made in the Cowin Portal, so that those who wish to take the vaccine certificate without the Prime Minister’s photo, may be able to do so.

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