Morning Digest: India extends Covishield shelf life to 9 months; EC notice to DMK leader A. Raja for comments on TN CM, and more

The surge in the number of COVID-19 cases has gone “from bad to worse”, said member (health) of the NITI Aayog V.K. Paul on Tuesday as India registered 56,211 new cases in the last 24 hours.

India’s drug regulator has allowed the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to be used for up to nine months from its manufacture date, as opposed to the prescribed six months, according to a document reviewed by Reuters. A source confirmed this.

In its notice to Mr. Raja, who is a star campaigner for the party, the EC said it had received a complaint from the AIADMK via the Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer about comments he made on March 26 in Thousand Lights constituency. The EC cited two speeches of Mr. Raja, the first one at Keelapur at 7 p.m. where he said: “Stalin is a child of good relationship and good birth while Edapadi Palaniswamy is a child of bad relationship and a premature born child”.

Following reports of an extremely rare adverse reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine which causes blood clots, several countries have set age limits for the use of the vaccine and Canada is the latest to follow suit.

The Supreme Court has decided to examine whether Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act can be employed to punish teenagers for “consensual” physical relationships which later turn “sour.”

Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam on Tuesday said that the law on internal reservation of 10.5% for Vanniakula Kshatriya was “permanent”.

The Supreme Court has asked the government to respond to a plea by five teachers to protect “academic freedom” from raids and seizures of police and investigative agencies.

Former India cricketer Ashok Dinda, who is contesting the West Bengal Assembly polls from the Moyna seat in Purba Medinipur district, was allegedly attacked and his vehicle vandalised during the campaign on Tuesday. The constituency is going to the polls in the second phase on April 1. The Election Commission has sought a report from the district authorities.

Bharatiya Janata Party national president J.P. Nadda on Tuesday credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah with bringing “lasting peace” in Assam.

In its 2020 Human Rights Report, the U.S. State Department said the harassment and detention of journalists critical of the (Indian) government in their reporting and on social media, has continued, although the government generally respected the freedom of expression. It also said government’s requests for user data from Internet companies had increased “dramatically.”

Eight members of an Indian boxing squad, including three pugilists, tested positive for COVID-19 during a competition trip to Turkey and have been quarantined in Istanbul.

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