New Delhi: The Centre has told the Supreme
Court that it cannot grant political asylum to a 72-year old
ex-US Navy officer and Vietnam war veteran who has sought
protection out of fear of being prosecuted in the USA.
Attorney General G E Vahanvati informed the apex court
that Jeff Knaebel is not entitled to such relief and he can
make an application for getting Indian citizenship.
The government`s response came on a petition of Knaebel
seeking the court`s direction to grant him the protection.
A bench of Justices P Sathasivam and Anil R Dave, after
hearing government`s contention, granted Knaebel, who had
fought in the Vietnam war between 1964-1967, to file an
application for citizenship within two weeks.
"Petitioner is granted two weeks time from today to make
an application to the government for citizenship and if such
an application is made within the stipulated time, the
government is directed to dispose of the same expeditiously as
early as possible in accordance with law," the court said.
Condemning the "imperialistic" policies of the US
government, Knaebel had on June 19, 2009, destroyed his
passport at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.
According to Knaebel, his act of destroying the passport
would be considered as an act of "treason and sedition" by the
US government which would prosecute him and hence sought
asylum in India.
Knaebel has been in India since 1995 on an extended visa,
crisscrossing the country and spreading the message of Mahatma