New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has junked the investigation of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the Maharashtra Police for allegedly registering a “fake case" against two suspects for the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar more than three years ago.

Anti-superstition activist and rationalist Dabholkar, 69, was shot dead in Pune by two people on a motorbike in August 2013. Dabholkar was campaigning for the state to pass an anti-superstition bill and his family said he had been receiving death threats. The police had stated at the time that it was “a planned murder".

The same year, Maharashtra police arrested Vikas Khandelwal, who claimed the police and the ATS had registered a fake case against him and his associate Manish Nagori after allegedly forcing them to confess to the murder.

The CBI has cast aside the ATS investigation after forensic results and its own probe revealed that the revolver recovered from the suspects was not the one used to murder Dabholkar. A CBI official on condition of anonymity said the findings of the Gujarat Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) were in tandem with the Bengaluru forensic laboratory’s that the ballistics of the firearm seized by the Maharashtra police did not match the bullets or cartridge used on Dabholkar.

The bureau has recorded the statements of three Maharashtra police officials who were part of the probe.

“The police officers were part of the team that was initially investigating the murder before CBI took over the case. It is imperative to record the statements of all the people to ensure that investigations are smooth," the CBI official said.

In June 2016, the CBI arrested Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member Virendra Tawde in the case. However, the Bombay High Court last week pulled up the CBI for its “tardy" investigation in the Dabholkar and Govind Pansare murder investigations, saying “the CBI and the Special Investigation Team (SIT) had wasted considerable time and energy" in the murder probes.

Pansare (81), a Communist Party of India leader, succumbed to injuries a few days after he was shot in February 2015 in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. The CBI told the court that the UK government had declined its request for Scotland Yard to analyse the ballistic reports on the weapons used in the murders as “no legal agreement exists between the two countries on the sharing of forensic data".