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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Supreme Court rejects plea of Indian detained in Czech Republic for foiled plot to kill Sikh separatist in US

The bench told that this court should respect the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the foreign court and law of that land and, therefore, it cannot go into the merit of the matter

PTI New Delhi Published 04.01.24, 11:59 AM
Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India File

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a plea for consular access moved by a family member of Indian national Nikhil Gupta, who is in a Czech prison following charges by the US relating to a foiled assassination attempt on Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said, “There is nothing much we can do. You are entitled for consular access under the Vienna convention, which you have already got.” The bench told senior advocate CA Sundaram, appearing for kin of Gupta that this court should respect the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the foreign court and law of that land and, therefore, it cannot go into the merit of the matter.

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“We will not allow you to speak anything about the foreign court,” the bench told Sundaram, when he tried to submit that Gupta has been placed under solitary confinement and was not granted any consular access post his indictment.

Sundaram said it is purely a human rights issue and he has sought assistance from the Indian embassy and Ministry of External Affairs, which he has not got.

“I am an Indian national…I have not received any assistance to enable me to defend myself in a foreign country. Consular access does not mean that a person once comes and meets you and then it is done and dusted,” Sundaram said.

The bench said looking at the prayer of Gupta in the writ petition, it cannot do much. When Sundaram sought direction to the Union of India for looking into his representation, the bench said it is for the government of India to consider it and it cannot pass any such orders.

The bench noted that on September 17, 2023, Gupta has received consular access in the matter and he has also moved the Delhi High Court, where certain orders have been passed.

On December 15, last year, the top court had deferred the hearing on a habeas corpus plea moved by a family member of Gupta.

Gupta was arrested in the Czech Republic on June 30. He has alleged grave human rights violations in solitary confinement, including being forced to consume beef and pork. He has also alleged that he was denied consular access, the right to contact his family in India and the freedom to seek legal representation.

On November 29, last year, Gupta was charged by federal prosecutors in the United States in connection with his alleged participation in a foiled plot to assassinate Pannun on American soil.

The 52-year-old was charged with murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of a 10-year jail term.

US authorities had said Gupta allegedly agreed to pay an assassin USD 100,000 to kill the Sikh separatist leader living in New York City.

The prosecutors had said Czech authorities arrested and detained Gupta on June 30, pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the US and the Czech Republic.

Gupta was arrested in the Czech Republic at the request of the US in connection with his alleged participation in the plot to kill Pannun.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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