The CBI is likely to file a charge sheet by November 18 this year against those arrested for the killing of Pune-based rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, the Bombay High Court was told on Wednesday.
The central investigating agency has so far arrested or secured the custody of seven persons in the case.
Several of them are also alleged to have played a role in the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru last September.
Dabholkar (68), known for his pioneering work in eradication of superstitious practices in Maharashtra, was shot dead on August 20, 2013 in Pune while he was taking a morning walk.
Appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told a bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and B P Colabawalla that the agency had set itself the deadline of November 18 to complete its probe and file the charge sheet in the case.
In September this year, a team of the CBI had obtained the custody of Amol Kale, a suspected right-wing activist, from the Bengaluru central prison where he was lodged for his alleged involvement in the conspiracy to kill Lankesh.
The CBI in August had arrested Sachin Andure, one of the two suspected shooters who had allegedly fired at Dabholkar.
The CBI had told the Bombay High Court earlier that it suspected a link between the killings of Lankesh and Dabholkar, and that it would soon make some definite progress in the investigation.
Meanwhile, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Maharashtra CID to probe the killing of Left leader Govind Pansare told the bench on Wednesday that it was waiting for the CBI custody of “some of the accused persons” to end, so that it could probe their role, if any, in the Pansare case.
The SIT said it was likely to get the custody of the accused within a week.
The CBI and the state CID are probing the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare, respectively.
Both the investigating agencies also submitted their respective progress reports before the bench in sealed covers on Wednesday.
The bench has directed them to file further progress reports by November 22 this year, the next date of hearing.
The bench also cautioned Maharashtra ATS chief Atulchandra Kulkarni against “divulging” any facts of its probe into the killings of Pansare and Dabholkar to the media or members of the public.
Pansare, a Leftist thinker, was shot at on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur in western Maharashtra. He succumbed to injuries four days later.
The high court has been monitoring the probe into both the cases on a plea filed by the kin of Pansare and Dabholkar through advocate Abhay Nevagi.