Pair accused of masterminding killing in India almost extradited, but turned back in Toronto

A pair accused of setting up a murder in India in 2000 were on their way to India when their lawyers learned of their whereabouts. Now, their legal counsel says they have new evidence that should prevent them from being extradited.

Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha were pulled off a plane leaving Toronto for India on Thursday

Star-crossed couple, Jaswinder Sidhu and her husband, Sukhwinder Mithu Sidhu, were attacked in Punjab in June 2000. Jassi was kidnapped and murdered. Mithu was badly beaten, but survived. (CBC)

A B.C. pair accused of masterminding a so called "honour" killing in India 17 years ago were moved to be extradited by officials despite the fact that legal arguments were still underway, said one of their lawyers.

Jassi Sidhu, 25, died after her throat was slit in an attack in 2000, allegedly because she married a rickshaw driver that her family disapproved of.

On Thursday a surrender order for Malkit Sidhu — the victim's mother — and Surjit Badesha — the victim's uncle — was put on hold after the B.C. Court of Appeal accepted the filing of an application for judicial review.

Michael Klein, legal counsel for Badesha, said the pair were already in Toronto, on the way to India, when he learned that justice officials had moved to extradite them.

"For about 48 hours we had no communication and given what was happening to them, I thought that unusual," he said.

"It is apparent to us that while [we] were in court making submissions on behalf of these two people, they were being removed. So it was a very interesting day," he said.

He believes that Badesha and Sidhu are now on their way back to Vancouver.

Surjit Singh Badesha (left) and Malkit Kaur Sidhu were arrested in 2012 for allegedly conspiring to murder Jassi Sidhu in Punjab, India in 2000. The pair, pictured in this 2012 court sketch, is fighting extradition to face trial in India. (Court sketch/CBC)

New evidence introduced

In 2014 Badesha and Sidhu were ordered extradited to India to face charges of murder and conspiracy for the murder in 2000.

Jassi Sidhu was allegedly killed for marrying a poor Indian rickshaw driver. The young couple was riding a scooter in Punjab when they were attacked by a group of armed men. Sidhu's body was later found in a canal.

Klein said he has new information about how the two accused might be treated in India if they were to be extradited and tried. 

"[There was] information that came late in the day out of India that we thought was relevant to the legal considerations that the minister had to make with regard to surrender," he said, adding that he could not disclose the nature of the evidence.

But Klein said the new information is unrelated to Facebook posts that allegedly claimed the two would not receive a fair trial in India, as was reported in some Indian and Canadian media outlets.

Klein said he plans on speaking with his clients upon their return to Vancouver, and that a hearing date will be set at that time.

With files from Yvette Brend