US judge denies request by Nikhil Gupta for defence materials in Pannun case

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What is the case about?

Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national, is accused by federal prosecutors of conspiring to kill a Khalistani separatist named Gurpreet Singh Pannun on American soil. Gupta allegedly hired two men, Gurpreet Singh and Balwinder Singh, to carry out the murder-for-hire plot in 2018. The men were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder for hire and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Gupta was arrested in India in 2019 and extradited to the US in 2020. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed that he was entrapped by the FBI agents who posed as drug dealers. He also argued that he had diplomatic immunity as an Indian citizen.

What did the judge say?

On Friday, January 13, 2023, a US judge denied Gupta’s request for defence materials from India. The judge ruled that Gupta had failed to show any evidence that he had exhausted his legal remedies in India or that he had any valid grounds for invoking diplomatic immunity.

materials in Pannun case

The judge also rejected Gupta’s argument that he was entitled to a fair trial because he was not informed of his rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which India has ratified. The judge said that Gupta had waived his right to be informed of his rights when he agreed to participate in the investigation and prosecution in the US.

The judge ordered Gupta to remain in custody until his trial, which is scheduled to begin on February 14, 2023.

What are the implications?

The denial of defence materials by the US judge could have serious implications for Gupta’s case. It could limit his ability to challenge the evidence against him or to present his own witnesses or documents. It could also affect his chances of obtaining bail or appealing his conviction.

The denial of diplomatic immunity by the US judge could also have significant consequences for Gupta’s future prospects. It could make it harder for him to claim any protection from prosecution or extradition from India or other countries where he may seek refuge. It could also expose him to more legal risks if he is found guilty of murder-for-hire or other crimes.

Nikhil Gupta is facing a tough legal battle against federal prosecutors who accuse him of plotting to kill a Khalistani separatist on American soil. A US judge has denied his request for defence materials from India and rejected his claim of diplomatic immunity. This could hamper his defence strategy and jeopardize his trial outcome.

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