Ex­tra­di­tion of pair ac­cused in ‘hon­our killing’ up­held in B.C.

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - LAURA KANE

VAN­COU­VER Two British Co­lum­bia res­i­dents ac­cused of hir­ing as­sailants to kill a rel­a­tive in In­dia be­cause she mar­ried a poor rick­shaw driver must be ex­tra­dited to face mur­der charges, the prov­ince’s top court has ruled.

The B.C. Court of Ap­peal has de­nied Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Sur­jit Singh Bade­sha’s re­quest for a stay of pro­ceed­ings and a ju­di­cial re­view, which their lawyers filed as the RCMP es­corted them onto a Delhi-bound plane last fall.

In­dian au­thor­i­ties al­lege the pair were in­volved in the so­called “hon­our killing” of Sidhu’s daugh­ter and Bade­sha’s niece, Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu, in 2000 af­ter she mar­ried a man from a lower so­cio-eco­nomic class against her fam­ily’s wishes.

An RCMP oper­a­tion to re­move the two was halted in Toronto’s air­port in Septem­ber 2017 when Moun­ties learned lawyers for the ac­cused had filed ap­pli­ca­tions for ju­di­cial re­view mo­ments ear­lier.

The ap­pli­ca­tions ar­gued Sidhu and Bade­sha weren’t given the chance to re­view the fed­eral jus­tice min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion to ex­tra­dite them and that they were de­nied ac­cess to coun­sel.

In a writ­ten de­ci­sion Tues­day, the court con­cluded the min­is­ter’s con­duct did amount to an abuse of process, but it does not war­rant a stay of pro­ceed­ings.

“This is a close case but we con­clude the bal­ance favours deny­ing the stay,” wrote Chief Jus­tice Robert Bau­man and Jus­tice Sunni Stromberg-Stein on be­half of a three-judge panel.

“The charges these ap­pli­cants face are the most se­ri­ous in our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and the in­ter­ests of In­dia, and of our own com­mu­nity, in see­ing them heard in court on their mer­its is very sub­stan­tial.”

The pair have en­joyed a very “long and full day in court,” the judges added, not­ing their case has been con­sid­ered by two jus­tice min­is­ters, the provin­cial ap­peal court and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Sidhu and Bade­sha have long op­posed their sur­ren­der to In­dia, ar­gu­ing they would face vi­o­lence and tor­ture in In­dian pris­ons. The coun­try is seek­ing their ex­tra­di­tion for the of­fence of con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der.

The Supreme Court ruled unan­i­mously in Septem­ber 2017 to set aside a pre­vi­ous B.C. Court of Ap­peal rul­ing that had stopped ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings.

In 2017, af­ter the Supreme Court held a hear­ing but be­fore it made its de­ci­sion, Sidhu and Bade­sha both filed new af­fi­davits to the fed­eral jus­tice min­is­ter and re­quested she re­con­sider their re­moval from Canada.

The af­fi­davits in­cluded state­ments from two of their co-ac­cused in In­dia who had been con­victed at trial but ac­quit­ted on ap­peal. The men de­scribed “shock­ing ” prison con­di­tions and in­cluded al­le­ga­tions by one of the ac­cused of be­ing beaten and tor­tured.

The fed­eral jus­tice min­is­ter had not yet re­sponded to their re­con­sid­er­a­tion re­quest on Sept. 20, 2017, when the RCMP com­menced a covert oper­a­tion to fly the pair to In­dia. Po­lice flew them from Van­cou­ver to Toronto and they were sched­uled to board a flight to Delhi that night.

When news of their ex­tra­di­tion broke in In­dian me­dia out­lets that day, coun­sel for Sidhu and Bade­sha con­tacted a lawyer for the De­part­ment of Jus­tice.

The lawyer wrote in an email that af­ter­noon that the pair would not be sur­ren­dered un­til the jus­tice min­is­ter made a de­ci­sion on their re­con­sid­er­a­tion re­quest. How­ever, if Wil­son-Ray­bould de­cided not to re­con­sider the de­ci­sion, the pair may be “im­me­di­ately re­moved,” the lawyer said.

Sidhu and Bade­sha’s lawyers filed an ap­pli­ca­tion for ju­di­cial re­view in the B.C. Court of Ap­peal at 6:30 p.m. Pa­cific time, prompt­ing the pair to be stopped while board­ing a plane that was sched­uled to leave just 30 min­utes later.

The ap­peal court found that the min­is­ter planned to refuse their re­con­sid­er­a­tion re­quest that day and in­tended for the pair to be re­moved from Canada im­me­di­ately af­ter­ward, with­out giv­ing them an op­por­tu­nity to con­sult coun­sel or file for a ju­di­cial re­view.

The de­part­ment and min­is­ter failed to ex­er­cise their au­thor­ity with re­straint, even-handedness and fair-mind­ed­ness, and as a re­sult there has been a “very se­ri­ous ad­verse im­pact on the in­tegrity of the jus­tice sys­tem,” the judges wrote. “Looked at holis­ti­cally, this con­duct might be jus­ti­fied by some as ‘just desserts’ for two ap­pli­cants who had their day in this coun­try ’s high­est court and were fil­ing a weak case for re­con­sid­er­a­tion in an ef­fort to frus­trate their timely ex­tra­di­tion to In­dia. They were drag­ging out the process with de­lay, de­lay, de­lay,” the judges wrote.

Nei­ther Bade­sha nor Sidhu’s lawyers re­sponded to a re­quest for com­ment.

Jaswinder Kaur “Jassi” Sidhu and Mithu Singh Sidhu on their hon­ey­moon.

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