SLAIN Maple Ridge woman Jaswinder (Jassi) Kaur Sidhu’s mother Malkit Kaur Sidhu and uncle Surjit Singh Badesha have been extradited to India to face charges in connection to her murder in the state of Punjab and are now in the custody of Punjab Police.
Indian media reported on Wednesday (Thursday in India) that Senior Superintendent of Police of Punjab’s Sangrur district had confirmed that the accused were handed over to the Punjab Police team at Delhi Airport early Thursday morning (Indian time).
On June 8, 2000, Jassi Sidhu, 25, was brutally murdered in Punjab. Her husband Sukwinder (Mithu) Singh Sidhu, a poor rickshaw driver, was also seriously injured in the attack carried out by contract killers who were allegedly hired by his wife’s mother and uncle who were opposed to their marriage.
A Punjab Police team that had come to Canada to take custody of the two accused in September 2017 were stopped at the last minute at Toronto airport and had to return to India empty-handed.
The Indian newspaper Tribune reports that her husband Mithu Sidhu said: “At last they will face trial. I have been dreaming of the day when I will get a chance to confront Jassi’s mother on her killing.”
Swarn Singh Khanna, who had conducted the probe and is now Superintendent of Police (Investigations), Bathinda, said: “Circumstantial evidence is very strong against the two. It includes their call details with other seven accused, affidavit of Jassi who feared for her and her husband’s life and statements of 19 witnesses. Our team had worked very hard on this case.”
On Friday morning (Thursday night in Canada) the two accused were produced before Malerkotla court in Sangrur district and both were sent to police custody for four days.
Last month, the B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed the applications of Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha for a judicial review of Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s September 28, 2017 order for their extradition. The two were seeking a stay of extradition proceedings for abuse of process due to their attempted surrender to India without an opportunity to seek a judicial review of the minister’s decisions on whether to accept their new submissions. They were also seeking a judicial review of the minister’s decisions.
The court said that although the minister’s conduct amounted to an abuse of process, it did not warrant a stay of proceedings in the circumstances of this case and that the minister acted reasonably in refusing to accept the applicants’ submissions.
The two had until January 10 to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada but they didn’t do so.
Detailed Background: The Crime
(From the court ruling)
On June 8, 2000, Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu and her husband, Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu, were travelling by scooter in the Punjab region in India when they were attacked by a group of armed men. Sukhwinder was seriously injured in the assault. The assailants forced Jaswinder into a car and drove away. The next day, Jaswinder’s body was discovered on the bank of a canal in a village close to where the attack had taken place. Her throat had been cut.
Almost a year earlier, the couple had married in India without the knowledge of Jaswinder’s family. Jaswinder’s family was from a high socio-economic class. Her husband was from a low socio-economic class: he was a rickshaw driver from a poor family. It is alleged by the Indian government that Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu strongly opposed the marriage of Jaswinder and Sukhwinder, took steps to try to end it, and when those efforts failed, arranged for a number of persons in India to attack and kill the couple.
Thirteen people, including Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu, were charged in India in connection with the killing of Jaswinder and the attack on Sukhwinder. Eleven of those charged were tried together in India. Seven were convicted and four were acquitted of offences arising out of the attack, including murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder. Four of the seven who were convicted were later acquitted on appeal. Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu are the only accused persons who remain to be tried in this matter.
By a diplomatic note, India sought their extradition for the offence of conspiracy to commit murder under the Indian Penal Code: the Extradition Treaty between the Government of Canada and the Government of India, Can. T.S. 1987 No. 14. The Minister of Justice issued an Authority to Proceed, authorizing extradition proceedings against Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu on the corresponding Canadian offences of conspiracy to commit murder, attempt to commit murder and murder.
The extradition judge found that there was a substantial body of circumstantial evidence implicating Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu in the alleged crime, including evidence that: they viewed the marriage between Jaswinder and Sukhwinder as bringing dishonour to their family; they issued death threats to Jaswinder and Sukhwinder; and phone calls were placed from Mr. Badesha’s home phone in British Columbia to some of the Indian perpetrators around the time the couple was attacked. The extradition judge concluded that on this evidence, a reasonable jury, properly instructed, could find that Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu hired the Indian perpetrators to kill Jaswinder. Accordingly, he committed Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and murder.)