Supreme Court restores extradition orders in B.C. ‘honour killing’ case
The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared the path for extradition of two B.C. residents to India to face murder charges in a socalled honour killing.
In a 9-0 judgment Friday, the high court set aside a British Columbia Court of Appeal ruling that put the brakes on extradition over concerns about whether the two accused would be fairly treated in India.
The Supreme Court also restored federal surrender orders in the high-profile case.
Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu was found with her throat slit on the bank of a canal in Punjab, India, in June 2000.
Indian authorities accuse her mother, Malkit Kaur Sidhu, and uncle, Surjit Singh Badesha, of conspiracy to commit murder.
Sidhu and Badesha, who live in the Vancouver area, allegedly ordered the killing after Jassi secretly married a rickshaw driver instead of a wealthy, older man chosen for her.
In 2014, a British Columbia judge committed them for extradition to face the charges, prompting then-justice minister Peter MacKay to issue surrender orders, conditional on several assurances from India.
Sidhu and Badesha, who are Canadian citizens, successfully appealed the extradition in the Court of Appeal on grounds the minister did not properly consider the substance of assurances concerning the pair’s health and safety in Indian custody.
Both the mother and uncle have health issues. Sidhu, 67, has been admitted to hospital for treatment of a heart condition while in Canadian custody. Badesha, 72, suffers from a number of age-related conditions that have required medical care.
In its judgment Friday, the Supreme Court said MacKay was aware of the risks and “treated them seriously.”
The court said it was reasonable for the minister to conclude the pair did not face a substantial risk of torture or mistreatment upon receiving assurances from the Indian government to address his concerns.
It was also reasonable for MacKay to find, based on a broader view of the case, that the surrender of Sidhu and Badesha would “not be otherwise unjust or oppressive,” Justice Michael Moldaver wrote on behalf of the court.
“The gravity of the alleged offence in this case was particularly relevant to the minister,” Moldaver said. “Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu are wanted in India for alleged criminal conduct of the most horrific nature — namely, participation in a conspiracy to commit the honour killing of a family member.”
Sidhu and Badesha were among 13 people charged in connection with Jassi’s murder. Three are serving life sentences.