The Kerala High Court recently sought a response from the Central and Kerala governments on a petition challenging the inclusion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photograph on COVID-19 vaccination certificates (Peter Myaliparampil v. Union of India)..Single judge Justice PB Suresh Kumar admitted the petition and directed counsel for the Central and State governments to get instructions on the matter..The petition, filed by a senior citizen and Right to Information (RTI) activist through Advocate Ajit Joy, stated that petitioner had received the paid COVID-19 vaccination from a private hospital and thereafter received a vaccination certificate.The certificate had the PM's colour photograph and the message: “medicine and strict controls (in Malayalam), together India will defeat COVID-19 (in English)” with attribution to “Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”According to the petitioner, this only added to his concern that the national campaign against COVID-19 is being converted in to a media campaign for the PM. It is also stated that the petitioner addressed a representation to the Central government for a vaccine certificate without the PM Modi's photograph, but did not receive any response. This prompted him to approach the Court seeking a declaration that affixing the photograph of the Prime Minister in the vaccination certificate of the petitioner is a violation of his fundamental rights..The petition raised the following questions for consideration..Preaching to the convertedThe photograph on the certificates served no utility or public interest as the same is issued to confirm the vaccination status of a person. Any additional messaging or motivation is irrelevant, as the recipient of the certificate is already convinced of the vaccination's utility and has taken the same voluntarily. Removal of the photograph will not harm the campaign or the State in any way."Further messaging in a certificate is no more than ‘preaching to the converted,’" the petition stated..Paid vaccinationThe petitioner particularly considers that he has a right to get a certificate without the photograph of the PM, especially because he has paid for it The Central government or the Prime Minister cannot claim any credit by inserting a photograph as they have not done anything but their duty..Constitutional right to be left aloneThe certificate issued to the petitioner, in his name, having his personal details and the details of a medical record, is his private space. The State has no right to access that space, especially since the petitioner has expressly not consented to it..COVID-19 campaign as propaganda of an individualThere seems to be an effort to show the campaign against COVID-19 as a one-man show, a propaganda to project an individual at State expense as evidenced by the face of the PM in banners, posters, government websites, the COWIN and Aarogya Setu platforms, and now, in vaccination certificates. "This shrill messaging is affecting his autonomy judgment and wellbeing and he ought to be able to say “NO” at some point," the plea said..Imposing speech on a captive audienceThe recipient of the certificate issued by the government is no more than a captive audience, the plea stated. The petitioner as a captive audience is not in a position to avoid the objectionable speech and is forced to be subject to it, here in the form of the photograph of the PM and his message. The petitioner has a free speech right protected by Article 19 of the Constitution of India against compulsory and forced listening..Freedom to voteGovernment messaging and campaigns, especially when it uses government funds, should not personify a leader like the PM, as he is the leader of a political party as well. This affects the independent choice of the petitioner in the matter of voting, which has been recognised as the essence of the electoral system in Peoples Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India.According to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court for campaigns using public money in Common Cause v. Union of India, no individual can be credited for the launching of an initiative or be celebrated for achievements of a certain policy of the State on government expense. The present campaign flies in the face of these guidelines, the petition claimed..On these, among other grounds, the petitioner sought the removal of the Prime Minister's photograph from the vaccine certificate issued to him and for the COWIN platform to be able to generate certificates without the photograph when needed..The matter will be taken up after two weeks.