Here are the day’s top stories:

Madhya Pradesh: Dalit girl’s beheaded body found in Sagar district, police begin investigation

The police in Madhya Pradesh on Friday said they are conducting raids to track down suspects accused of kidnapping and beheading a 12-year-old Dalit girl in Sagar district’s Banda area. Sagar Additional Superintendent of Police Rajesh Vyas said the girl from Belakhedi village had been missing since Wednesday and her disappearance was reported at the Banda police station at noon the next day.

Andhra Pradesh: Chandrababu Naidu orders probe after YSR Congress Party leader found dead at home

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday ordered that a special investigation team be set up to probe the death of YSR Congress Party leader YS Vivekananda Reddy, who passed away earlier in the day. Vivekananda Reddy, 68, was the younger brother of former Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy and the uncle of YSR Congress Party President Jagan Mohan Reddy. He reportedly died of a cardiac arrest at his house in Kadapa district on Friday morning, according to some reports. But the former minister’s family claimed he had died of unnatural causes.

Fodder scam: Supreme Court asks CBI to respond to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s bail plea

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to respond to Rashtriya Janata Dal President Lalu Prasad Yadav’s bail plea in three fodder scam cases. The former Bihar chief minister has applied for bail on medical grounds. The top court asked the CBI to respond to Yadav’s plea in two weeks.

Press Council of India issues notice to J&K about banning of government ads to two local dailies

The Press Council of India has issued a show cause notice to the Jammu and Kashmir government and its information department over the purported banning of advertisements to two dailies in the state. The council has asked the state to reply to its query after the Kashmir Editors’ Guild lodged a complaint against the government. The council said it views such incidents with concern as they “tend to undermine the freedom of the press”.

Shashi Tharoor files defamation cases against Ravi Shankar Prasad and Kerala state BJP chief

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Thursday filed affidavits in a chief judicial magistrate court against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad and PS Sreedharan Pillai for their alleged defamatory statements against him. “It is time for the lies to stop,” Tharoor said in a tweet. “Fight a clean campaign if you can.”

SC directs West Bengal to ensure satirical film ‘Bhobishyoter Bhoot’ is screened without obstruction

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the West Bengal government to ensure that the film Bhobishyoter Bhoot is screened without any obstruction. The court passed the interim order based on a plea by the producers of the film alleging that the Mamata Banerjee-led state government had ordered an unofficial ban on the film. The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said that “once the Central Board of Film Certification has certified a film, no one can come in the way of its public exhibition”.

Electoral bonds will ensure transparency and accountability, Centre tells Supreme Court

The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the decision to issue electoral bonds would promote transparency in funding and donations received by political parties. The government was responding to a petition filed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury at the Supreme Court.

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad to contest Lok Sabha election from Narendra Modi’s Varanasi

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad on Friday said he will contest the upcoming general elections from Varanasi, the constituency currently represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament. Modi has not yet announced if he will contest from Varanasi again.

Masood Azhar ban: India was alone in 2009, now it has worldwide support, says Sushma Swaraj

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Friday said that China’s blocking of a proposal to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist was not a “diplomatic failure” on the Indian government’s part, which has “worldwide support”.

AIADMK ‘two-leaves symbol’: Supreme Court seeks Election Commission’s response on Dhinakaran’s plea

The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Election Commission on a petition filed by former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leaders TTV Dhinakaran and VK Sasikala against the Delhi High Court’s verdict granting the “two-leaves” symbol to the faction led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam.

Mallikarjun Kharge again rejects government invitation to attend Lokpal selection meeting

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday rejected the government’s invitation to attend the Lokpal Selection Committee meeting set to take place on Friday. This is the seventh time that Kharge has objected to being invited as a “special invitee” to the meeting since February 2018.

Mumbai Police blame BMC for bridge collapse, say Railways is not responsible

The Mumbai Police on Friday filed a First Information Report blaming the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for Thursday’s collapse of a foot overbridge in Mumbai, which killed six people. The police said Railways were not responsible after the corporation agreed that the maintenance of the bridge came under its jurisdiction and not the Railways’.

SC issues notice to poll body on plea seeking bye-elections for all vacant Assembly seats in TN

The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Election Commission on a petition filed by the Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam seeking directions to the poll body to conduct bye-elections to three vacant Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu.

1984 anti-Sikh violence: CBI asks Supreme Court to dismiss Sajjan Kumar’s plea against life term

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday told the Supreme Court that 1984 anti-Sikh violence convict Sajjan Kumar’s plea challenging the life term awarded to him should be dismissed. The Delhi High Court had in December sentenced Kumar to life imprisonment and held him guilty of murder, promoting enmity between groups, and defiling public property.

BJP website not back online even 11 days after being hacked

It has been over 10 days since the Bharatiya Janata Party’s website was hacked and it is not yet back online. Following the breach on March 5, the homepage of the website showed a meme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Chhattisgarh: Ayushman Bharat is a handout to the rich businessmen in India, claims Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s Ayushman Bharat scheme targeted only some healthcare matters and was a handout to rich businessmen. “My main criticism of Ayushman Bharat is, it gives insurance without a proper support structure from hospitals and medical professionals,” Gandhi told healthcare professionals at a hotel in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur.

Supreme Court refuses to hear plea by woman who alleged that Arunachal Pradesh CM raped her

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a petition filed by a woman alleging that Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu raped her in 2008 when she was a minor. A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjeev Khanna said the court cannot interfere in an incident which took place 11 years ago.

Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking to send Indian Muslims to Pakistan

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking to send Indian Muslims to Pakistan. The petition came up for hearing before a bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Vineet Saran.

Supreme Court stays Meghalaya HC order holding Shillong Times editor, publisher guilty of contempt

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Meghalaya High Court’s order holding Shillong Times Editor Patricia Mukhim and Publisher Shobha Chaudhuri, guilty of contempt of court, Bar and Bench reported. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also issued notice to the High Court registrar on petition filed by Mukhim and Chaudhuri.

Mumbai bridge collapse: Fix responsibility by Friday evening, CM Devendra Fadnavis tells authorities

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis set Friday evening as deadline for the Mumbai municipal commissioner to fix “primary responsibility” for the the collapse of a foot overbridge in the city, NDTVreported. Fadnavis said one of those injured in the bridge collapse was admitted to the ICU while 10 others are in the ward and they are all out of danger.

Supreme Court issues notice to Election Commission on plea by 21 Opposition parties on VVPATs

The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Election Commission of India based on a petition filed by 21 Opposition parties to verify at least 50% of the votes cast in the Lok Sabha elections using the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the poll body to respond on March 25.

‘Mission 150 plus’: TDP releases first list of candidates for Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections

The Telugu Desam Party on Thursday night announced its first list of candidates, containing 126 names, for next month’s Assembly elections. Apart from Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will also hold Assembly elections along with the Lok Sabha polls.

Amritsar residents say they heard ‘two loud sounds’, police claim ‘everything is okay’

Residents of Amritsar on Twitter on Friday morning claimed that they heard “two loud sounds”. However, the Punjab Police said “everything is okay”. “I appeal to the people to not believe in rumours on social media,” Amritsar Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Jagjit Singh Walia told ANI. “Everything is okay. As per our information nothing has happened.”

Supreme Court lifts life ban on S Sreesanth, asks BCCI to alter quantum of punishment

India’s Supreme Court on Friday set aside the life ban imposed on S Sreesanth by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The former fast-bowler had been banned for his involvement in spot-fixing during the Indian Premier League 2013.

Sheila Dikshit says her remarks comparing Modi, Manmohan Singh were ‘taken out of context’

Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Thursday said her comments in an interview with News18 comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his predecessor Manmohan Singh were taken out of context. “Here is what I said - it may seem to some people that Mr Modi is stronger on terror but I think this is a poll gimmick more than anything else,” the Congress leader tweeted. “I also added that national security has been a concern and Indiraji [former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi] was a strong leader.”

Narendra Modi’s ‘politics of hate’ hindering economic growth, Rahul Gandhi tells ‘The Week’

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “an expression of India’s weaknesses – anger and hatred” and accused him of generating hate. “And that has its costs,” Gandhi told The Week magazine in a wide-ranging interview. “You can’t have a country that is divided, which is full of hate, and get the levels of economic growth that India requires to generate a huge number of jobs.”

Mumbai bridge collapse: Toll rises to six, Congress calls for Piyush Goyal’s resignation

The Congress on Thursday held the Bharatiya Janata Party governments in Maharashtra and at Centre responsible for the collapse of a foot overbridge in Mumbai. Police confirmed that the toll in the incident rose to six.

Kerala: Both BJP-RSS and CPI(M) use violence, says Rahul Gandhi in Kozhikode

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday blamed both the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh combine and Kerala’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) of using violence, and said his party believed in non-violence. Gandhi was speaking at a rally in Kerala’s Kozhikode.

Nationalist Congress Party announces first list of 12 candidates for Lok Sabha polls

The Nationalist Congress Party on Thursday announced its first list of candidates in Maharashtra and Lakshadweep for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The list of 12 candidates includes party chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule. However, there is no mention of Pawar’s grand nephew Parth Pawar, who is expected to be fielded from the Maval constituency.

Govind Pansare murder probe: Bombay HC says Maharashtra government has become a ‘laughing stock’

The Bombay High Court on Thursday lashed out at the Maharashtra government over its investigation of rationalist Govind Pansare’s murder, PTI reported. The court said the state government has been reduced to a “laughing stock” after reading a report submitted by the Special Investigation Team probing the killing.

Political meddling in economic data puts India’s global reputation at risk, warn 108 leading experts

A group of economists and social scientists on Thursday urged the Indian government to restore the integrity of statistical organisations as their national and global reputation was “at stake”. Any data unfavourable to the government “seems to get revised or suppressed on the basis of some questionable methodology”, they said, citing some recent examples.