Defence lawyers say that Canada secretly conspired with India last fall to deport two B.C. residents accused in an alleged overseas honour killing before their legal options had been exhausted and without regard for new evidence.
The documents obtained by the National Post outline for the first time details of how the accused pair were awoken in the “dead of night” and transported from Vancouver to Toronto without their lawyers’ knowledge and the feverish steps their lawyers later took to halt their extradition.
What transpired last September amounted to a clear “abuse of process,” their lawyers allege in the B.C. Court of Appeal filings dated Dec. 15.
Police in India allege Surjit Singh Badesha and his sister, Malkit Kaur Sidhu, Canadian citizens living in the Vancouver area, ordered the killing of Sidhu’s daughter, Jaswinder Sidhu, after she had secretly married Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu, a rickshaw driver, instead of a wealthier older man who had been chosen for her.
The couple were attacked by armed men in 2000 in the Punjab region of India. Jaswinder Sidhu’s body was found the next day, her throat slit. Her husband was badly beaten.
Badesha says in an affidavit he was approached by guards at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre at 5:30 a.m. and told to get ready to be moved.
He said, “I thought I was going to be moved to another unit within the institution, but then the guards said to put all my belongings into a bag, including bed sheets, pillows and laundry."
He shared that he was taken to an office and told by RCMP officers that Indian police would be taking him back to India.
“I asked to contact my lawyer, Michael Klein. … I was not permitted to make the call to my counsel.”
Outside, he saw his sister, Sidhu, who had been held at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, waiting in a separate car.At the airport, they boarded an Air Canada flight and were escorted to seats at the back of the plane.
When defence lawyers learnt the move, they immediately filed an after-hours application with the B.C. Court of Appeal for a judicial review.
The following day, Sept. 21, the appeal court granted the application and told both sides to prepare their arguments, paving the way for the accused to be brought back to Vancouver.
Lawyers for the accused have since applied for a permanent stay of the surrender orders and have also asked the court to order the government to turn over records of the planning that took place to prepare their removal from Canada.
Sidhu’s lawyer asserted that the justice minister and the government of India knew or ought to have known that Sidhu’s legal rights in Canada “to resist against surrender had not yet been exhausted,” in violation of her Charter rights.
A spokesman for the federal Justice Department said in an email Wednesday that following the Supreme Court of Canada decision, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was “authorized … to surrender Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu to India.”
She wrote, “I have a duty to ensure that the extradition process is effective and expeditious, and that the principle of finality is respected."
The proceedings of the case will be on Jan 16 when lawyers are due back in court.