Court junks plea for consular access to Nikhil Gupta charged in Pannun murder plot

The Supreme Court junked a plea for consular access moved by kin of Indian national Nikhil Gupta, charged in the alleged plot to kill Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the US.
Court junks plea for consular access to Nikhil Gupta charged in Pannun murder plot
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a petition filed by the family of Indian national Nikhil Gupta, seeking consular access and legal aid to challenge his indictment and extradition in a case charged by the US authorities for allegedly plotting to kill Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil.

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Court junks plea for consular access to Nikhil Gupta charged in Pannun murder plot

The top court noted that the matter is sensitive, and it should respect the jurisdiction of the foreign court.

The 52-year-old Indian national, Gupta, was arrested in the Czech Republic in June 2023 at the request of US authorities. He has been lodged in a solitary confinement facility in the Czech Republic.

Gupta's family, in the complaint, alleged that he was denied consular access, the right to contact his family in India and the freedom to seek legal representation and sought the Supreme Court's intervention in the matte

"This is an international matter, and all aspects are covered under the Vienna Convention. If consular access is not granted, authorities can be approached directly. However, as per your own list of dates, consular access was given to you twice," noted Justice Sanjeev Khanna in response to the submission by Nikhil Gupta's counsel, C Aryama Sundaram.

Senior Advocate Sundaram argued that the petitioner has a "right to seek assistance" from his country.

However, Justice Khanna noted, "This applies when you are in our jurisdiction. It's a sensitive matter, and let the government decide on this".

The Supreme Court bench, also including Justice Dipankar Dutta, said, "We do not think we can interfere in this case. The petitioners had already approached the Delhi High court and orders were passed. No further orders required."

Justice Khanna also added that the court abides by the Vienna Convention and has entrusted the central government with taking the necessary action in the case.

On December 22, the Czech justice ministry spokesperson stated that India's judicial authorities have "no jurisdiction" in the case involving Gupta.

"Any judicial authorities of the Republic of India have no jurisdiction in the matter in question, the case is under the jurisdiction of the competent authorities of the Czech Republic," the spokesperson Valadirmir Repka stated.

Nikhil Gupta was charged in November 2023 by the US Justice Department for his involvement in the alleged murder plot. According to US officials, Gupta had agreed to pay $100,000 to an assassin to carry out the killing, with an advance payment of $15,000 already made in June last year. However, the individual he contacted for the hitman turned out to be a confidential source working with US law enforcement.

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Court junks plea for consular access to Nikhil Gupta charged in Pannun murder plot

According to reports, US officials are seeking Gupta's extradition from the Czech Republic.

Source: India Today

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