The Kerala High Court on Monday questioned a petitioner why he was opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph on coronavirus vaccination certificates, Live Law reported. The court asked him why he was “ashamed of our prime minister”.
Justice PV Kunhikrishnan made the comment while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Right to Information activist Peter Myaliparampil against the use of the photograph on the certificate.
In an oral observation, the judge said that the petitioner could not challenge the usage of the photograph merely on account of political differences.
“100 crore people don’t seem to have an issue with this so why do you?” Kunhikrishnan asked the petitioner. “Everyone has different political opinions, but he is still our prime minister. You are wasting judicial time.”
Ajit Joy, the petitioner’s counsel pointed out that vaccination certificates issued by other countries did not have the photographs of their leaders. To this, the court said that those countries “may not be proud of their prime minister, but we are proud of ours”.
Joy argued that whether or not to be proud of the prime minister was a personal choice.
The judge noted that Myaliparampil works for the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Leadership, and asked he did not ask the institute to remove the name of the first prime minister, Bar and Bench reported.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s guidelines on campaigns using public money, Joy said that no individual can be credited for an initiative or achievement of a policy implemented on government expense.
The court then said that it would examine the petition with an “open mind” and decide on its merits.
Last month, another judge of the Kerala High Court had remarked that the demand to remove Modi’s photo from the certificate was a dangerous one.
“Tomorrow someone can come here and protest that they don’t like Mahatma Gandhi, and seek the removal of his image from our currency saying it’s their blood and sweat and they don’t want to see his face on it. What will happen then?” Justice N Nagaresh had said.
In the past, Opposition parties have also objected to Modi’s photo being put on vaccination certificates generated through the CoWin platform. Ahead of the Assembly elections held in April and May, the Election Commission had directed the Centre to remove pictures of the prime minister from vaccination certificates in poll-bound states.