A local court in the city of Pune in Maharashtra on Tuesday turned down the Central Bureau of Investigation’s plea for extending the custody of advocate Sanjeev Punalekar and his assistant Vikram Bhave, who have been arrested for rationalist Narendra Dabholkar’s murder, PTI reported. The court sent the two to judicial custody for 14 days.

Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist, was shot dead in Pune on August 20, 2013.

The CBI arrested Punalekar, who had represented some of the other accused in the case, and Bhave on May 25.

Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Suryawanshi told the court that the investigating agency
had recovered crucial data, including names and contact numbers, from Punalekar’s laptop and mobile phone. Suryawanshi said the Forensic Psychology Assessment and Forensic Statement Assessment tests conducted on Punalekar indicated that he had deceived the investigators.

Not cooperating

The agency told the court on June 1 that the two accused were not cooperating. Suryawanshi alleged during that day’s proceedings that Punalekar “crossed his limits by advising one of the shooters to destroy the weapon”. The gunman he referred to is Sharad Kalaskar, who is also suspected of being involved in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

The agency claimed the vehicle used to assassinate Dabholkar had not been recovered as Bhave, a convict in the 2008 Thane bomb blast case, was not cooperating.

Punalekar is an officer of the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad while Bhave is a a member of Hindutva extremist outfit Sanatan Sanstha.