Two police officers have been sacked after an investigation found that their claim to be the first Indian couple to climb Mount Everest was false.

Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod - employed as constables with the Maharashtra state police - said in 2016 that they had successfully reached the 8, 850m (29, 035ft) summit. They even claimed that they have pictorial evidence to claim their achievement.

The Maharashtra police, however, on Monday (7 August) said the duo had morphed the photographs to show their ascent in May 2016. Additional Commissioner Sahebrao Patil told the Press Trust of India news agency that the Rathods have "shared misleading information" and "brought disrepute to the Maharashtra Police department".

But it's not clear yet whether the couple would face any charges, the BBC reported.

An inquiry against the duo was launched after other mountaineers alleged that the two were lying.

One of the complainants, Anjali Kulkarni, said that the photos which the couple showed as proof are the biggest giveaways. The pictures were morphed, she had alleged.

"The colour of Dinesh Rathod's down jacket is red and black in his individual summit photo, whereas in the couple's summit photo his jacket colour is a yellow-orange. The same is the case with Tarkeshwari Rathod's outfit. Both seem to have changed their climbing boots too in separate pictures. Being able to change one's clothes mid-climb and not get frostbitten would be a miracle," Kulkarni said.

She further mentioned that not only the outfits, there was a time difference that can be noticed in the photographs, which also indicate that the images were fake.

Suspicion against them further aroused after another climber from Bangalore said that the pictures presented by the couple as evidence of their climb actually belonged to him.

The Rathods, who hail from the western Indian city of Pune, are also facing a 10-year mountaineering ban by the Nepalese authorities, who concluded that their claim was fake. The country's tourism department had initially issued them a certificate for their climb but annulled that decision after conducting an investigation.

This is not the first time the couple is facing problems because of their false claims.

In 2014, the couple was accused of making fake claims of having completed the Aussie10 Challenge, where mountaineers have to climb 10 peaks in Australia.

The complainants alleged that the Pune couple had actually managed to scale only five of the peaks and the Australian Mountaineering Agency refused to issue a certificate to them.

Everest unconquered
Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod said in 2016 that they had successfully reached the 29,035ft summit - File photo Reuters/ Navesh Chitrakar