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SC To Hear Plea Of Indian Man Detained in Prague For Alleged Foiled Plot To Kill India Designated Terrorist Pannun


New Delhi [India], December 15 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the hearing for January 4 2024, of the Habeas Corpus petition filed on behalf of Nikhil Gupta, accused by the United States of conspiring to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a India designated terrorist, against his arrest and ongoing extradition proceedings in the Czech Republic.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti observed that Gupta has to approach the concerned court for relief, which is in the Czech Republic.

As per the plea, Nikhil Gupta is currently detained in prison in the Czech Republic while awaiting extradition to the United States in connection with the case there for allegedly being involved in a foiled plot to murder Pannun.

“You have to go before the court, which is outside India. Go over there. We are not going to have an adjudication over here. The person detained has not given the affidavit. If there is a violation of any law, etc., you have to go to court over there,” Justice Khanna said.

Senior Advocate CA Sundaram, appearing for the petitioner, said that he is only pressing for relief for adequate consular assistance as he is an Indian citizen.

Justice Khanna said, “This is an extremely sensitive matter for the Ministry of External Affairs. It’s for thenm to decide.”

When the bench inquired about who filed the plea, Sundaram said that the plea had been filed by a family member of Nikhil Gupta. Justice Khanna said that the bench hadn’t had the time to read the case file as it was received late and adjourned the hearing.

Sundaram requested an in-chamber hearing on the next date of hearing. Justice Khanna said that the request would be considered at the next hearing.

“We will have this on January 4, after vacations. We will decide the next date. Serve copy to the central agency” the bench ordered.

The plea said Gupta, 52, was in Czech Republic on a business exploration trip when he was detained illegally on June 30 at Prague airport and remained in solitary confinement for about 100.

The plea stated, “The circumstances surrounding his arrest were marked by irregularities, with no formal arrest warrant presented, and the apprehension executed by self-claimed US agents rather than local Czech authorities.”

The plea sought direction from the Supreme Court that the Union of India intervene in extradition proceedings pending before the Extradition Court in Prague, Czech Republic, to ensure that Gupta is guaranteed a fair and transparent trial.

Gurpatwant Pannun is a India designated terrorist who holds American and Canadian citizenship.

The plea narrated in detail the manner in which he was allegedly detained at the airport after he had crossed the immigration counter.

The plea alleged that he was denied consular access, the right to contact his family in India, and the freedom to seek legal representation.

He claimed that he is a devout Hindu and vegetarian and alleged that he was subjected to forced consumption of beef and pork during his detention in Czech custody, which he said was a direct violation of his religious beliefs.

The plea further sought direction from the Indian Embassy in the Czech Republic to extend all cooperation to Gupta pending his illegal detention and incarceration in the Czech Republic.

The plea also stated that Gupta and his family have sent multiple representations to different Indian government authorities, seeking immediate assistance and intervention.

“Despite representations, emails, letters and phone calls both to the Ministry of External Affairs of India and to the Indian Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, there has been no action or involvement by the Respondent Department in the current matter. There have been numerous procedural violations threatening the fundamental rights and even the most basic human rights of the petitioner, and the same,” the plea said.

“Moreover, the petitioner is aggrieved by the blatant negligence and omission of the respondent department in handling the petitioner’s case with the due care and caution needed” the plea added.

As per the Us Justice Department indictment, Indian national Nikhil Gupta is currently in custody and has been charged with murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Czech authorities arrested and detained Gupta on June 30, pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic.

The US Justice Department had claimed that an Indian government employee, who was not identified in the indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan, recruited an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman to allegedly carry out the assassination of Panun, which was foiled by US authorities.

The US Justice Department claimed that Gupta is an associate of CC-1 (an unidentified person who directed the alleged plot), and has described his involvement in international narcotics and weapons trafficking in his communications with CC-1. The indictment claims CC -1 directed the assassination plot from India. (ANI)

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