India’s Supreme Court Denies Intervention in Nikhil Gupta’s Case: Rejects Plea for Release


The Indian Supreme Court has declined to intervene in the case of Nikhil Gupta, an Indian citizen accused by US prosecutors of conspiring to assassinate Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on US soil. The court’s decision marks a pivotal development in a case that has stirred controversy and garnered international attention.

Petition Rejected: Supreme Court’s Decision

  • Government Jurisdiction: The apex court maintained that the responsibility to act lies with the Indian government, dismissing a plea filed by an anonymous relative of Mr. Gupta, seeking his release and fair trial support.
  • Legal Standpoint: Justice Sanjay Khanna emphasized the sensitivity of the matter, asserting that based on principles of international law and respect for sovereign jurisdictions, the court couldn’t grant the requested relief.

Case Background: Accusations and Charges

  • Alleged Conspiracy: Gupta faced charges for allegedly hiring a hitman to eliminate Pannun and other Sikh separatists in North America, offering $100,000 for the task—a transaction that turned out to be an interaction with an undercover US federal agent.
  • Indian Government Involvement: The indictment implicated Gupta as being directed by an unnamed Indian government official, a charge that has significant geopolitical implications.

Complexities and Controversies Surrounding the Case

  • Terrorist Allegations and Denials: India designates Pannun as a terrorist, while he refutes the claims, identifying as an activist advocating for the Khalistan movement and a separate Sikh homeland.
  • Claims of Injustice: Gupta’s petition alleged procedural irregularities, including arrest by “self-claimed” US federal agents, inadequate trial proceedings, and religious infringement by denying appropriate dietary accommodations in custody.

Seeking Consular Assistance and International Oversight

  • Consular Rights: The court affirmed Mr. Gupta’s entitlement to consular assistance, acknowledging international legal norms. However, Gupta’s legal representation highlighted lapses in providing ongoing support from India’s foreign ministry.
  • Prime Minister’s Assurance: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi affirmed the country’s commitment to examining evidence concerning alleged Indian government links to the US assassination plot, reinforcing India’s adherence to the rule of law.

International Scrutiny and Diplomatic Tensions

Cross-Border Implications: Gupta’s case has not only become a national legal matter but also sparked international repercussions. Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau previously hinted at potential links between Indian government agents and the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia. India firmly refuted these claims, labeling them as baseless.

India’s Pledge for Investigation: Despite the strong rebuttal, India vowed to investigate any evidence presented concerning its alleged involvement in the US assassination plot. Prime Minister Modi, emphasizing the country’s commitment to the rule of law, conveyed readiness to scrutinize any information regarding its citizens’ actions, reinforcing the nation’s judicial accountability.


The court’s decision underscores the complexity and sensitivity surrounding Mr. Gupta’s case, invoking questions of jurisdiction, international cooperation, and fundamental legal rights. As the legal battle unfolds, it continues to be a significant subject drawing attention from global observers and diplomats alike.

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