Here are the day’s top stories:

Nithyananda’s passport cancelled, plea for new one rejected, says MEA

The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said the government has cancelled the passport of self-styled godman Nithyananda and also rejected his application for a fresh one. Nithyananda is accused of abducting children and using them to raise money for his ashram. In June 2018, a court in Karnataka had framed charges against him in a rape case.

‘Justice delivered’ to ‘not a banana republic’: Politicians react to Telangana encounter

Friday’s police encounter of four men accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian in Hyderabad last week evoked mixed reactions from Indian politicians and intellectuals. While several politicians praised the Telangana Police and the government for “delivering justice”, other political leaders and activists cautioned against extra-judicial killings and the police taking the law into their own hands.

Sacked BSF soldier’s plea challenging Modi’s election from Varanasi dismissed

The Allahabad High Court on Friday dismissed a petition challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. The petition was filed by sacked Border Security Force constable Tej Bahadur Yadav, whose nomination papers to stand for the Lok Sabha election against Modi in Varanasi were rejected in May.

Amnesty says Telangana encounter sets ‘grossly wrong precedent’, calls for independent inquiry

Human rights organisation Amnesty International India on Thursday criticised the police encounter in which four men accused in the alleged rape and murder of a woman veterinarian were killed near Hyderabad earlier in the day. The organisation said the incident sets a “disturbing precedent of circumventing the legal system” and called for an independent inquiry.

Telangana encounter: NHRC sends inquiry team, says encounter deaths give wrong message to society

The National Human Rights Commission on Friday sent a team to immediately conduct a spot inquiry into the police encounter in which four rape accused were killed near Hyderabad earlier in the day. The commission said the incident showed that police were not prepared for any untoward activity by the accused.

Citizenship Bill and NRC are two sides of same coin, we will oppose it, says Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said that the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Bill were two sides of the same coin, which her party will oppose “till the end”. The chief minister’s comments the same day Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Indian citizenship for people facing persecution in their own countries will ensure a better tomorrow for them.

President Kovind says child rapists should not be allowed mercy plea

President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that convicts charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act should not be allowed a mercy plea. He said the country’s conscience gets shaken by “demonic” attacks on women.

UP: Rape survivor’s uncle alleges threat from accused’s family, a day after she was set on fire

The uncle of the rape survivor who was set on fire in Unnao on Thursday has alleged that a relative of the main accused has threatened his life. He said he would approach the police on the matter.

Vodafone Idea will have to shut shop if it doesn’t get government relief: Kumar Mangalam Birla

Vodafone Idea will have to shut shop if it does not get relief from the government, the company’s Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said on Friday. He said his group will not invest any more money in the company if relief does not come by as that would “not be good business”.

Parliament: BJP calls for an apology to Smriti Irani, Lok Sabha adjourns for the day

The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day on Friday after BJP leaders asked Congress legislators to apologise for their behaviour towards Union minister Smriti Irani. The woman and child development minister had criticised the Congress for politicising rape.

Former IPS officer K Vijay Kumar appointed senior security adviser in home ministry

K Vijay Kumar, who was until recently the adviser to the governor in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, has been appointed a senior security adviser in the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday. Kumar is a retired officer of the Indian Police Service from the 1975 batch. He will “advise the ministry on security-related matters of Union Territory of JK [Jammu and Kashmir] and Left Wing Extremism-affected states,” a government order stated.

SC puts on hold local body polls in nine districts of Tamil Nadu, gives four months for delimitation

The Supreme Court on Friday decided to put on hold local body elections in nine districts of Tamil Nadu so that legal formalities such as delimitation can be completed in four months. On Monday, the state Election Commission had announced that local body polls would be held on December 27 and December 30.

Indian citizenship to those persecuted in their nations will provide better tomorrow, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that Indian citizenship for people facing persecution in their own countries will ensure a better tomorrow for them. The remarks came at a time when leaders of Opposition parties, and groups in the North East have strongly protested against the Citizenship Amendment Bill that will be tabled during the ongoing Parliament session.

Malayalam film director Shrikumar Menon arrested for allegedly defaming actress, released on bail

Malayalam film director Shrikumar Menon was arrested in Thrissur on Thursday for allegedly intimidating and defaming actor Manju Warrier on social media. He was later released on bail.

Hyderabad: Murdered vet’s father praises police, others warn of dangers of ‘extra-judicial’ killings

The death in police encounter of four men accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian in Hyderabad on Friday was welcomed by the woman’s father. “It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died,” he said. “I express my gratitude towards the police and government for this. My daughter’s soul must be at peace now.”

‘Behave or face consequences’: Amarinder Singh warns Pakistan against fomenting trouble in Punjab

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday warned Pakistan of consequences if it tries to destabilise his state. He said the neighbouring country had its own problems, “but I won’t let them make their problems my problem”. Singh was speaking on the first day of the Progressive Punjab Investors Summit 2019 in Mohali.

‘We are not criminals,’ Farooq Abdullah writes in letter to Shashi Tharoor from custody

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Thursday tweeted a letter sent to him by fellow parliamentarian and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah from custody in Srinagar. Sharing the brief letter, Tharoor said members should be allowed to attend Parliament, else the “tool of arrest” could be used to muzzle voices in the Opposition.

Delhi: Auto driver arrested for allegedly trying to sexually assault nurse in Burari

The Delhi Police have arrested an auto driver for allegedly trying to sexually assault a nurse and robbing her in North Delhi’s Burari locality. The alleged incident took place on Tuesday night. The 22-year-old woman reportedly boarded the auto from a hospital in central Delhi.

Hyderabad vet rape-murder case: All four accused killed in encounter, say police

Four men accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian in Hyderabad were killed in an encounter in the early hours of Friday, said Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar. The encounter took place around 3.30 am, when the accused tried to flee while being taken to the murder site to reconstruct the sequence of events. The police claimed the fired in self defence after the accused snatched the a weapon and fired at them.

Ajit Pawar exonerated in irrigation scam, affidavit filed a day before new government took oath

Maharashtra’s Anti-Corruption Bureau cleared Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar of allegations of corruption in connection with an irrigation scam a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government of Devendra Fadnavis resigned, and a day before the new alliance government led by Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray took over. The agency pinned the blame for irregularities on the principal secretary of the water ministry and the executive director of the irrigation development corporation at the time the scam allegedly occurred.

Government staff who resign not entitled to pension, rules Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that government employees become ineligible for pension under the Central Civil Services Pension Rules if they resign because they forfeit past service. The pension rules apply to government servants, including civilian government servants in the defence services, appointed before December 31, 2003.

‘Even Lord Ram cannot guarantee 100% security’: UP minister responds to rising crimes against women

Amid national outrage and protests in several states over rising crimes against women, Uttar Pradesh minister Ranvendra Pratap Singh on Thursday said “not even Lord Ram” could guarantee 100% security to people. The food and civil supplies minister was responding to questions on women’s safety after a rape complainant was set ablaze by five men in the state’s Unnao district.

Rape complainant who was set on fire in UP airlifted to Delhi for treatment

A 23-year-old woman, who is battling for her life after she was set ablaze by five men in Uttar Pradesh, was airlifted and admitted to Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital on Thursday. Doctors said that the woman had suffered about 90% of extensive burn injuries.

‘If there is decline in automobile sales, why are there traffic jams,’ asks BJP MP

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Virendra Singh Mast on Thursday dismissed reports of a slowdown in the automobile sector and claimed that traffic jams on roads were an indication of the growth. He alleged that the Opposition’s talks about slowdown were a conspiracy to “defame” the government and the nation.