Nikhil Gupta, Charged in Plot to Kill Khalistani Gurpatwant Pannun, Approaches Supreme Court

File photo of United States-based Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. (Image/PTI)

File photo of United States-based Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. (Image/PTI)

Petition filed by Nikhil Gupta’s family claims that his fundamental rights are being ‘gravely violated’, as he is ‘forced to consume beef and pork’ that he found offensive as he is a ‘devout Hindu and vegetarian’.

A habeas corpus has been filed in Supreme Court for Nikhil Gupta, the man accused of conspiring with a government official to assassinate United States-based Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

The plea, filed by his family, seeks Indian government’s intervention in extradition proceedings initiated by the US. Some reports stated that the case is expected to be heard on Friday.

The petition claims Gupta is being illegally detained in Prague, and that, as a law-abiding citizen, fears his life is in danger.

A report in NDTV quoted the petition: “… the circumstances (of the arrest in Prague) were marked by irregularities, with no formal arrest warrant presented, and the apprehension executed by self-claimed US agents rather than local Czech authorities”.

It also claims “grave violations of fundamental rights”, including “forced consumption of beef and pork” that he found offensive as he is a “devout Hindu and vegetarian”.

Later in the day, the apex court heard the matter and acknowledged this to be an “extremely sensitive matter” for the Ministry of External Affairs.

NDTV report stated that Justice Sanjiv Khanna first directed the petitioner to “go before the court which is outside India”, making the point that the Supreme Court of India had no jurisdiction over arrests in another country.

Gupta, also known as ‘Nick’, was arrested by Czech authorities in June and is awaiting extradition.

The charges were unveiled in a Superseding Indictment unsealed in November in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Though the prosecutors did not name the “target”, US officials have identified him as Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

The US indictment, which identifies Pannu as “The Victim”, also identifies an Indian government employee as CC-1, who allegedly collaborated with others, including Gupta, to direct a plot to assassinate “a US citizen of Indian origin” residing in New York City. It alleges that Gupta, residing in India, is associated with CC-1 and has been involved in international narcotics and weapons trafficking.

Czech authorities arrested and detained Gupta on June 30, based on the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic. Gupta faces charges of murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, each carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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