Supreme Court restores extradition orders in B.C. 'honour killing' case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Supreme Court restores extradition orders in B.C. 'honour killing' case

September 08, 2017 - 10:18 AM

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared the path for extradition of two B.C. residents to India to face murder charges in the so-called honour killing of a young woman.

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 accused — the woman's mother and uncle — would be poorly treated or even tortured in India.

The Supreme Court also restored federal surrender orders in the high-profile case.

In June 2000, Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu and her husband, Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu, were travelling by scooter in the Punjab region of India when they were attacked by armed men. Sukhwinder was seriously injured.

The assailants forced Jassi into a car and drove away. The next day, she was found on the bank of a canal with her throat slit.

Indian authorities accuse her mother, Malkit Kaur Sidhu, and uncle, Surjit Singh Badesha, of conspiracy to commit murder.

Sidhu and Badesha, who are Canadian citizens living in the Vancouver area, allegedly ordered the killing after Jassi secretly married Sukhwinder, a rickshaw driver, in 1999 instead of a wealthy, older man chosen for her.

In 2014, an extradition judge committed the pair for extradition to face the charges in India.

The judge cited evidence that Sidhu and Badesha viewed the marriage as bringing dishonour to their family, they issued death threats to Jassi and Sukhwinder and phone calls were made from Badesha's B.C. home to some of the Indian perpetrators around the time of the attack.

Peter MacKay, then justice minister, issued surrender orders conditional on several assurances from India about meeting Sidhu and Badesha's safety and medical needs, as well as access to Canadian consular officials.

Sidhu and Badesha successfully challenged 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.

A majority of the appeal court noted there was a "valid basis for concern" that the two accused would be subjected to violence, torture or neglect in India if surrendered.

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 health and safety 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 defensible 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.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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