British Columbia

B.C. pair accused of masterminding killing 19 years ago extradited to India

A B.C. pair accused of masterminding the murder of Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu in India have been extradited from Canada to India to face a trial for her killing, nearly two decades after her death.

Jaswinder Sidhu, 25, was found dead, her throat slit, in Punjab in 2000

Jassi Sidhu was killed on a visit to India in 2000. Her mother and uncle are accused of planning her murder because she ignored the family's wishes and married a poor rickshaw driver. (CBC)

A B.C. pair accused of masterminding the slaying of Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu in India have been extradited from Canada to India to face a trial for her killing, nearly two decades after her death.

Inspector Amardeep Singh Rai with Punjab police confirmed Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha — Jassi Sidhu's mother and uncle — landed in Delhi on Thursday morning local time.

Rai said he'd been working on the case since 2002.

"[It] has taken us almost 17 years to get them here, and the purpose was to send a clear message that the process of law in India is very clear. And anybody committing a crime here — especially the heinous crime of killing their own daughter — will be brought to book," he said.

In India, Sidhu and Badesha, pictured in a sketch from a previous court appearance, are charged with supplying money to contract killers. (CBC)

The pair are accused of planning 25-year-old Jassi Sidhu's murder because she ignored the family's wishes and married a poor rickshaw driver.

Jassi Sidhu and her husband Sukhwinder Mithu Sidhu were riding a scooter in Punjab when police said they were attacked by a group of armed men. Sidhu's throat was slit and her body was later found in a canal. Mithu was badly beaten, but survived. 

In India, Badesha and Sidhu are charged with supplying money to contract killers in order to have Jassi Sidhu killed. Rai alleged that the pair had also hired a member of the Punjab police, who recruited the contract killers.

A dozen people were originally charged in Jassi Sidhu's murder, and seven were tried. After trials and appeals, three individuals are serving sentences for Sidhu's killing. 

The pair will appear in court on Jan. 25.​

Rai said it's now up to courts in India to decide the pair's fate.

"Through this long process of extradition we have gotten them back here now, and they will be produced before the court of law and it will be for the court of law to take a call of what needs to be done with regards to them."

'Not part of our culture'

Rai said he hopes the extradition sends a message to the diaspora that people cannot come to India and break the law.

"These kinds of things are not humane, they are not part of our culture, and they were a corruption in a society where we were killing our own girls and daughters for making their own choices."

Badesha and Sidhu were taken into custody in 2012. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of extradition in 2014, but the appeal court stayed that finding.

In December, they lost a last-ditch attempt to avoid extradition to India after applying for a stay of extradition proceedings. They claimed there was an abuse of process in a plan to whisk them out of Canada in 2017, when they were pulled off a plane leaving Toronto at the last minute.

Their lawyers asked for a review of former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould's decision to surrender the pair. Lawyer Michael Klein said Wilson-Raybould hadn't considered new evidence on prison conditions in India.

The B.C. Court of Appeal rejected the application on Dec. 11. A panel of judges found Wilson-Raybould's conduct amounted to an abuse of process, but that her actions did not warrant a stay of proceedings given the gravity of the accusations.

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)

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated the B.C. Court of Appeal said there had been an abuse of process when (the pair) were taken from their B.C. jails and flown to Toronto for extradition because they weren’t given the opportunity to consult their lawyers. This did not reflect the entirety of the court's decision and the story has been updated.
    Jan 24, 2019 8:35 AM PT
  • A previous version of this story said seven people were convicted in India in connection with Sidhu's death. The story has been updated to include the results of appeals.
    Jan 24, 2019 7:17 PM PT

About the Author

Michelle Ghoussoub

@MichelleGhsoub

Michelle Ghoussoub is a journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. She has previously reported in Lebanon and Chile. Reach her at michelle.ghoussoub@cbc.ca or on Twitter @MichelleGhsoub.

With files from Meera Bains