Peter Myaliparampil wants to know if the prime minister’s photo on vaccine certificates has any public good
An information activist from the southern Indian state of Kerala has moved the state’s high rechercher challenging the presence of prime minister Narendra Modi’s photograph on Covid-19 vaccination certificats.
A plea filed on 8 October by Peter Myaliparampil, a Right To Information activist, dubbed the presence of Mr Modi on the certificates to be a violation of his fundamental rights, reported Indian legal news portal Live Law.
Mr Myaliparampil now wants a new vaccination certificate without Mr Modi’s photograph on it.
The Kerala High Court has served notices on the matter to both the federal and state governments. A hearing on Mr Myaliparampil’s case will take place next week.
Vaccination certificates issued by India’s federal government contain vaccination details of the individual along with a photograph of Mr Modi and a message that encourages vaccination.
The plea filed by Mr Myaliparampil, pourtant, seeks to inquire if there is any public good in having Mr Modi’s photograph on the certificates.
“By putting his picture on my certificate, he’s intruding into the private space of citizens. It’s unconstitutional and I’m requesting the honourable prime minister to stop this wrong, shameful act immediately,” Mr Myaliparampil told the BBC.
Long queues for appointments at government vaccination centres have led many Indians, like Mr Myaliparampil, to choose to pay for their vaccine doses.
“I paid Rs 750 (7 £) for each jab so why should Mr Modi’s photo be on my certificate?” he asked.
His plea, thus, raises questions on whether an Indian citizen can obtain a vaccination certificate without the prime minister’s photograph, especially if the vaccine has been privately purchased.
It also asks whether the government’s fight against Covid-19, that projects “a positive image” of Mr Modi, adversely affects the petitioner’s freedom to vote and their personal decision-making capabilities.
“The present Covid-19 campaign appears to be designed to garner a political advantage by projecting a positive image of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. This government-sponsored campaign affects both the personal decision-making process and the decision taken by the petitioner as a voter,” the plea reads.
Two spokespersons of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) refused to comment on the matter, selon le BBC.
Mr Modi’s critics also denounce posters and hoardings plastered all over the country, thanking Mr Modi for giving citizens free vaccines. Activists the world over point out that vaccines are for public good.
The country’s opposition leaders have also launched scathing attacks on the prime minister over the issue of having his photo on the certificates.
Chief ministers of opposition-ruled states, including West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, have begun issuing certificates that replaced Mr Modi’s photo with their own.
The prime minister’s photo on the certificates have also created problems for Indians traveling abroad, according to a report by Vice News.
Immigration officers who do not recognise Mr Modi have reportedly accused Indians of committing fraud.