As India races against time to meet the December deadline for vaccinating all eligible beneficiaries against the novel coronavirus, a petition filed by a Kottayam resident has raised questions over the photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the CoWin certificates that are issued after one takes the Covid jabs in India. Seeking the removal of the picture, RTI activist M Peter, moved the Kerala High Court. In his plea, Peter says that PM Modi’s photo on the vaccination certificate has ‘no relevance’ and ‘no public interest is served.’ The Kerala High Court has issued notices to both the state and the Centre. The hearing is slated after two weeks.
The plea, which was filed by Peter’s counsel Ajit Joy, states that there are several nations that are also issuing vaccination proofs, but none have the photos of their leaders embossed on them. Presenting the certificates from the US, Israel and Indonesia among others, Peter also said that PM Modi’s photo on CoWin certificates violates the fundamental rights of a citizen. The Kerala resident has asked the High Court to direct the authorities to issue a certificate without PM Modi’s photo. Citing a 2003 case, the petitioner says that all government campaigns should be neutral and there is no reason to credit an individual for the success of a programme, which is being carried out at state expense.
This is not the first time that the issue of PM Modi’s pic on Cowin certificates has hit the headlines. Back in August, amid criticism from the Opposition, the Centre had filed a written reply in Parliament saying that the photo was ‘ideal to promote awareness.’ However, the latest plea says that when a person has decided to take the Covid jab, the words and photo of PM Modi on the vaccination certificate is like ‘preaching the converted.’ The Centre has so far maintained that PM Modi’s photo is being used to reinforce the Covid protocols among the general public.