Questioning the purpose behind having Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph on the COVID-19 vaccination certificate has turned out to be a costly affair for a RTI activist.
Dismissing a petition filed by the Right to Information (RTI) activist Peter Myaliparampi against using PM Modi’s photo on COVID-19 vaccination certificates, the Kerala High Court today (December 21) slapped a ₹1 lakh fine on him. According to Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, who was hearing the petition, the court cannot entertain and encourage such unnecessary petitions when serious cases are piling up in court, said media reports.
In the judge’s view, the case was “frivolous”, “politically motivated” and a “publicity interest litigation”. The petition seemed to be motivated by a “political motive”, observed the judge, brushing it aside as “not a significant petition”. And, the motive behind the petition was not about public good, but more for publicity, the court had said.
According to media reports, Justice PV Kunhikrishnan pulled up the petitioner for being “ashamed” about carrying a vaccination certificate with the photograph of the Prime Minister with a morale boosting message, especially in this pandemic situation. Citizens can hold a different view on the government’s policies or even disagree with the PM’s political stand. But the citizen “need not be ashamed” to carry a vaccination certificate with the PM’s photograph.
The judge also pointed out that nobody can view a PM as a Congress Prime Minister or a BJP Prime Minister or the Prime Minister of any political party. That is because when once a Prime Minister is elected as per the Constitution, “he is the Prime Minister of our country and that post should be the pride of every citizen,” he declared.
The judge went on to direct the petitioner to deposit the ₹1 lakh fine within six weeks to the Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KeLSA). The authority will have to recover the amount by selling off the petitioner’s assets if he fails to deposit the fine on time, the court said.
The RTI activist Peter Myaliparampil had questioned why vaccination certificates carry PM Modi’s picture when people had to pay for the vaccines at private hospitals. This, according to him, was a violation of fundamental rights.
The certificate was also “a private space” with personal details on record, he had argued and therefore, it was inappropriate for the PM’s picture to intrude into the privacy of an individual. However, during the hearing, the court had found no fault with COVID-19 vaccination certificates carrying the photograph of the Prime Minister.
At that time, the court had even turned on the petitioner to question him: “Why are you ashamed of the Prime Minister?” The PM had come to power through the mandate of the people, the court had said. And added pointedly, “we may have different political views, but he is still our PM”.
When the argument was put forward in the court that other countries do not carry the pictures of their political leaders on vaccine certificates, the court retorted: “They may not be proud of their PMs, we are proud of our PM”. This is indeed a shot in the arm for Modi bhakts!