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The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a British Columbian brother-sister duo could be deported to India over their alleged involvement in an ‘honor killing’ case in Punjab in June 2000. A nine-judge bench of the apex court unanimously ruled in Ottawa on Sept. 8 that Surjit Badesha, 72, and Malkit Kaur Sidhu, 67, could be extradited, after it received assurance from the Indian government that they would not be subject to any kind of assault during their trial in India.
The two Indo-Canadian persons were accused of masterminding the murder of Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu, then a 25-year-old resident of Maple Ridge in the province of British Columbia, for eloping and marrying a low-caste rickshaw driver. Jaswinder and her husband Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu were attacked by hired contract killers in June 2000 in a village in Punjab. While Jaswinder was abducted, her husband was severely beaten up. Her body was later found dumped in a canal with her throat slit. Sukhwinder Singh survived the attack.
Punjab Police investigations confirmed it was an honor-killing plotted by Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha, Jassi’s mother and uncle, respectively, from Canada. Based on evidence of 266 phone calls that Badesha had with the hired killers, India formally requested Canada to extradite Badesha and Malkit Sidhu to face trial.
In May 2014, an extradition judge in the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver ordered that Jassi’s uncle and mother must be deported to India to face trial. But the British Columbia’s Appeal Court overturned the deportation order against the two, on the grounds of India’s “appalling” record on treatment of prisoners.
Also, since the brother-sister duo are senior Canadian citizens, they were protected by the Section-7 of Canadian Charter Rights and Freedom that ensures right to life, liberty and security of the person.
Friday’s order by the country’s apex court cleared the way for their deportation.
Besides Badesha and Malkit Sidhu, 11 others were also held accused in the murder case. Of them, seven have been convicted while four were acquitted.
Vancouver journalist Fabian Dawson, who broke the story 17 years ago and later wrote a book titled Justice for Jassi, told IANS: “Today’s decision is significant because it ends the case in Canada.
“Now the Indian justice system comes into play… It is the start of another chapter in the quest for justice for Jassi,” Fabian added, “I fear for Mithu because there have been several attempts on his life because he is the principal witness in the case.”
(With inputs from IANS)