LAWYERS for B.C. residents Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha, who face charges in India in connection with the 2000 brutal slaying of Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu, 25, in India’s Punjab state, will be in B.C. Court of Appeal on Tuesday (January 16) to, among other things, argue that there was an abuse of process and that the extradition surrender to Indian authorities should be stayed.
Jassi Sidhu’s mother and uncle did not approve of her marriage to a poor rickshaw driver back in India. They wanted her to get married to a much older, rich man from B.C., the court has heard.
Vancouver defence lawyer Michael Klein told The VOICE on Thursday that the lawyers for Sidhu and Badesha, mother and uncle of Jassi Sidhu, respectively, are seeking disclosure about any documentation that will disclose to them why and how their clients were removed from their jails to be presumably sent on their way to India.
Klein added that this was to advance an argument earlier last year that there was an abuse of process and that the extradition surrender should be stayed.
Meanwhile, a report in the National Post newspaper titled “Lawyers allege secret pact to spirit suspects to India,” on Thursday said that the lawyers for Sidhu and Badesha alleged in court filings last December that the Canadian government secretly conspired with India to remove the two from here before they had exercised all their legal options and without regard for new evidence.
Klein wrote in court filings: “With the minister’s decision to reconsider the surrender order still outstanding, the applicant was taken to Toronto so that he could be clandestinely removed from Canada immediately after the release of that decision, without the benefit of the 30 days the applicant has in law to consider the decision and apply for judicial review of that decision.”
THE B.C. Court of Appeal, which heard arguments in December 2015 against the extradition, had set aside the justice minister’s surrender order of May 9, 2014, in a split decision in a ruling released in February 2016.
In August 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear a Crown appeal in the extradition case.
Last September, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Sidhu and Badesha could be extradited to India to face charges of conspiracy to murder in her suspected honour killing.
The judgment read: “In this case, it was reasonable for the minister to conclude that, on the basis of the assurances he received from India, there was no substantial risk of torture or mistreatment of B and S that would offend the principles of fundamental justice protected by s. 7 of the charter, and that their surrenders were not otherwise unjust or oppressive.”
THE National Post in its report said that the lawyers for the accused had presented the Justice Department with evidence they felt raised fresh concerns about mistreatment and torture of prisoners in India. But before the Justice Minister could make a decision on that new information, the accused were transferred to the Vancouver airport on September 20, according to their lawyers. Badesha said in an affidavit that he and his sister were flown to Toronto from Vancouver on an Air Canada flight. In Toronto, they were told to wait.
Sidhu’s lawyer, Greg DelBigio, in a filing said that the defence lawyers learned from rumours and online publications that the accused may be on their way to India.
That same day, the Justice Department stated that the accused had not yet been surrendered to India and would not be until the minister made a decision on whether to reconsider.
The defence lawyers filed an after-hours application with the B.C. Court of Appeal for a judicial review that granted the review the next day.
ON January 6, 2012, the RCMP in a statement said: “On June 8, 2000, Jaswinder (Jassi) Kaur Sidhu, 25, a resident of Maple Ridge was murdered in Punjab, India. Her husband Sukwinder (Mithu) Singh Sidhu was also seriously injured in this attack.
“Indian authorities, specifically the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Punjab Police Service (PPS), conducted an investigation into the murder. The investigation uncovered evidence indicating Jassi Sidhu’s family were involved in the homicide from Canada. As a result of an official request from Indian authorities, Ridge Meadows Detachment initiated some investigative enquiries on behalf of the Indian investigation.
“In 2004, because of the international scope of the investigation, members of the RCMP “E” Division Serious Crime took conduct of the enquiries and worked closely with the Indian Police to pursue extradition of the Canadian citizens.
“To that end, members of the “E” Division Major Crime Unit, along with other government officials, traveled on a number of occasions to India and identified a number of new investigative avenues that were instrumental in the extradition process.
“Seven other individuals have already been convicted in India for charges including murder, attempt murder and conspiracy to commit murder in relation to the death of Jassi Sidhu and attempted murder of her husband, Mithu Sidhu. This latest development culminates an exhaustive 11-year international investigation.”
Jassi and Mithu were attacked by criminals near a village while the couple were traveling on a scooter. Mithu was badly injured while his wife was abducted. Her body was later found in a canal. Her throat had been slit.
Indian police allege that the contract killers got the order to kill Jassi from Canada shortly after the girl had spoken to her mother on a cellphone following her abduction.
Her husband recovered, but in 2004 he was jailed for alleged rape, though his family insisted that he was framed by corrupt police who evidently had been bribed by Jassi’s influential relatives in Punjab. He was finally acquitted.
Back in October, 2005, The Tribune newspaper of Punjab reported that an India judge in Sangrur had sentenced seven goons allegedly hired by the victim’s mom and uncle to life in jail. They included a head constable. Four others were acquitted.