Hello, this is your daily dose of news from Onmanorama. I'm your host, Vishnu, and these are the major news stories of the day:
1. KV Thomas to face disciplinary action, may lose official posts
2. Covaxin cleared for 6-12 age group, Corbevax for those aged between 5 and 12
3. Prashant Kishor turns down Sonia Gandhi's offer to join Congress
4. Power tariff hike: KSEB to take a decision in June
5. Supreme Court orders gratuity for lakhs of hapless Anganwadi workers
Let's get into the details:
1. The All-India Congress Committee on Tuesday decided to take disciplinary action against senior leader K V Thomas for attending the CPM's national conclave in Kannur earlier this month ignoring party diktat.
It is likely that he will be removed from all official positions held in the party, Manorama News TV reported.
The disciplinary committee of the party, headed by veteran leader AK Antony, has submitted the recommendations of the panel to party president Sonia Gandhi. Disciplinary committee secretary Tariq Anwar said Sonia Gandhi will take the final call on the action to be taken against Thomas. Currently, Thomas is a member of the AICC and the Political Affairs Committee of the party in Kerala. The disciplinary panel, chaired by Antony, took up the matter after Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K Sudhakaran requested the AICC to initiate disciplinary action against Thomas. Sudhakaran termed Thomas a traitor for attending the CPM seminar. Both the state leadership and the party high command had forbidden him from attending.
The KPCC had barred him from attending the seminar citing the ongoing protest against the CPM government's aggressive push for SilverLine, which is an ambitious semi high-speed rail project that will connect Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod in under 4 hours. The AICC too had asked him to abide by the state leadership's decision.
However, Thomas slammed the leadership for barring him. He contested that the matter of centre-state relations, which was the topic of the seminar he attended, was a national issue. He also argued that in the past, Congress leaders including Antony have praised rival CPM leaders and even attended its functions.
2. The Drugs Controller General of India has granted emergency use authorisation for Biological E's COVID-19 vaccine Corbevax for those aged between five and 12 years, and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for children in the age group of six to 12 years, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya informed on Tuesday.
The drugs regulator has also granted emergency use authorisation to Cadila for its ZyCoV-D. for an additional dose of 3mg with a two-jab inoculation schedule 28 days apart, for those aged above 12 years.
ZyCoV-D is currently approved for a 2mg three-dose vaccination schedule. The approval by DCGI comes following recommendations by the Subject Expert Committee on COVID-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation.
The expert committee had last week reviewed the application of Biological E and Bharat Biotech seeking emergency use authorisation for Corbevax and Covaxin for use in children aged between 5 and 12 and 6 to 12 respectively.
India began administering precaution vaccine doses to healthcare and frontline workers and those aged 60 and above with comorbidities since January 10.
Precaution doses for all aged above 18 years are available at private vaccination centres since April 10.
3. The Congress on Tuesday officially announced that election strategist Prashant Kishor will not be working for the party as he declined to be part of the empowered action group for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The declaration came a day after Sonia Gandhi had announced the constitution of the group.
Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala announced the decision through a tweet. "Following a presentation and discussion with Prashant Kishor, the Congress President has constituted an Empowered Action Group 2024 & invited him to join the party as part of the group with defined responsibility. He declined. We appreciate his efforts & suggestions given to party," read the tweet.
The group was formed after a report was submitted by an eight-member committee on April 21.
The party which is in dire straitsowing to massive electoral losses in recent times, has constituted the eight-member Empowered Action Group to address the political challenges and prepare better for the 2024 general elections.
Surjewala, however, did not disclose details regarding the members of the group.
4. Kerala Electricity Regulatory Commission chairman Preman Dinaraj has stated that a decision on a power tariff hike would be taken by the end of June.
The commission chairman was speaking after attending a hearing on the KSEB proposal for a power tariff hike.
The hearing was held in connection with the scrutiny of the audited accounts of the KSEB for the years 2019-20 and 2020-21. According to the chairman, a decision on power tariff hike will be made based on the audit reports. He also ensured that the interests of the public will be factored in before making a call, saying the entire expenditure of the KSEB will not be imposed on the people.
KSEB is demanding a hike of 95 paise per unit for 2022-23. The Board claims to have made a loss of Rs 741 crore.
Meanwhile, the Kerala High Tension and Extra High Tension Industrial Electricity Consumers' Association has demanded a reduction in tariff citing that the KSEB has actually made a profit of Rs 550 crore.
There was also criticism regarding the demand of KSEB for Rs 300 crore for disbursement of salaries.
5. In a landmark judgment that would give assistance to lakhs of hapless Anganwadi employees in the country, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the workers and helpers of Anganwadis are eligible for gratuity benefits.
The court also ordered that gratuity benefits should be disbursed to all eligible employees within three months with 10 per cent simple interest. While interpreting the relevant clauses of the Payment of Gratuity Act 1972, the Bench, comprising judges Ajay Kumar Rastogi and Abhay S Oka, said that the gratuity law was applicable to Anganwadis.
Justice Abhay, in his judgement, said the pre-schooling of children under the age of 3-6 was taken care of by Anganwadis, which would fall under academic and curriculum work. And as per Section 11 of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the state government is running pre-school in Anganwadis, making the Payment of Gratuity Act applicable to Anganwadis.
The judgement also stated that Anganwadis are an arm of the government and that Anganwadi workers also shoulder the responsibilities for the proper implementation of the provisions of the RTE Act and the Food Securities Act.
The court pointed out that the government should view the concerns of Anganwadi workers seriously as they are getting a paltry sum which is not commensurating with the volume of work they do.
The Supreme Court's terms of reference included whether Anganwadis, which comes under the Central Government-sponsored Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), are liable to pay gratuity to its employees.
That brings us to the end of this episode. Be sure to come back tomorrow. As always, thanks for listening to Daily News Dose.