The extradition proceedings of Indian national Nikhil Gupta indicted by the US for his alleged in the foiled bid to kill the head of the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) Gurpatwant Singh Pannun has been suspended by the Czech Republic till the Czech Constitutional Court gives a ruling.
Gupta had approached the Constitutional Court to prevent his extradition to the United States of America (USA). The Czech Justice Ministry spokesperson Vladimir Repka confirming the suspension of Gupta extradition until the Constitutional Court.
According to reports, Repka mentioned that Gupta had said he would want to use all available means to prevent extradition. Last month Prague High Court gave green light to Gupta’s extradition to the US. For the unversed, the Czech constitutional court is the highest body in the Czech Republic judicial system and its decisions cannot be appealed. Interestingly, the US and Czech Republic have an extradition treaty under which the US wants Gupta extradited.
It is being alleged that Gupta acted at the behest of an Indian government official in plotting the assassination of Pannun in New York. Gupta, on the request by the US was detained in the Czech Republic on June 30, 2023, moments after he arrived in Prague. It has been alleged that 52-year-old Gupta tried to hire a hitman to kill a US citizen, but the hitman turned out to be an undercover US federal agent.
In the first week of January 2024, the Czech High Court in Prague had overruled Gupta’s appeal and ordered that his extradition could go ahead. His lawyer, last month said he was going to file an appeal in the US Constitutional Court and also asked the justice minister to not extradite Gupta to the US.
If the Czech Constitutional Court rules that Gupta’s extradition is possible, the justice minister will finally take a call on the US request for his extradition. Meanwhile, Gupta had alleged serious human rights violations by Czech authorities in the custody and the court may look into this before the Supreme Court of India for intervention claiming that he had been mistreated in Czech jails and his religious dietary beliefs had been violated.
In 2023, the US shared information with the Indian government about the foiled Pannun assassination bid, asking it to investigate the alleged involvement of the Indian official.
In November, the Indian government constituted a committee to probe the issue but so far has not shared information about the outcome of the probe. Also, the Gupta approached the Supreme Court of India to stop his extradition, but his plea was rejected and the apex court said only the Indian government could act in his case. If Gupta is convicted, then Gupta could face upto 20 years in prison.