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Pannun Murder Plot: Czech Constitutional Court Halts Extradition of Indian National Nikhil Gupta to US

The Czech Constitutional Court has intervened to suspend the extradition of Indian national Nikhil Gupta to the United States. Gupta, indicted by the US Department of Justice for allegedly conspiring to kill Khalistan separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, faced extradition following lower courts’ decisions.

Citing Czech officials, The Indian Express reported that the Constitutional Court deemed Gupta’s extradition to the US as potentially causing disproportionate harm to him. The interim decision, dated January 30, 2024, highlighted irreversible consequences even if Gupta’s challenge to the extradition order succeeded.

Markéta Andrová, spokesperson for the Czech Ministry of Justice, clarified that the Constitutional Court’s decision effectively halts the extradition process until a verdict is reached on Gupta’s complaint. Gupta contested rulings from the Municipal Court and the High Court in Prague, arguing inadequate assessment of the political nature of the alleged crime involving state actors.

Representing Gupta, lawyer Zuzana Cernecká from the Krutina Muka law firm emphasized the need for proper evaluation of the case’s complexities. Pavel Dvorák, head of the external relations and protocol department at the Czech Constitutional Court, underscored the importance of safeguarding fundamental rights and preventing irreversible harm pending a decision.

The Ministry of Justice indicated no fixed timeframe for the Constitutional Court’s verdict, citing variations based on case complexity and court workload. Meanwhile, the United States seeks Gupta’s extradition under the bilateral treaty with Czechia, alleging his involvement in a plot to assassinate Pannun.

Pannun, designated as a terrorist under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, remains a contentious figure in India-US relations. Reports of shared intelligence between the US and India regarding the foiled assassination attempt have raised questions about the alleged involvement of an Indian official, identified as CC1.

However, the Indian government dismissed these reports as “unwarranted and unsubstantiated,” pushing back against allegations of involvement by a former intelligence officer in the plot to kill Pannun.

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