Two B.C. residents accused in the 2000 honour killing of Jaswinder ‘Jassi’ Sidhu in India could soon find out if they’ll be extradited to that country to face trial.
Sidhu’s mother, Malkit, and her uncle, Surjit Badesha, could face murder and conspiracy to murder charges in the brutal slaying of Sidhu.
In 1994, Sidhu traveled to India and fell in love with Sukhwinder (Mithu) Singh Sidhu, a poor rickshaw driver, whom she secretly married five years later.
READ MORE: A timeline of Jassi Sidhu’s life and death
But in 1999, the 25-year-old’s uncle began arranging her marriage to a wealthy 60-year-old businessman. In June of the same year, Sidhu, who was a resident of Maple Ridge, entrusted to her co-workers that her clandestine love had been discovered after missing several days of work and returning with bruises.
Meanwhile, her husband Mithu was kidnapped, threatened and beaten in India. Jassi then signed a notarized statement saying she was coerced into marriage and her uncle made a complaint to police in India.
In April of 2000, Sidhu complained to the RCMP of threats and assault by her family over her illicit marriage. In May, Sidhu traveled to India and made a statement to local police that Mithu did not coerce her into marriage, that her uncle made a false allegation.
In June, Jassi and Mithu were attacked by a group of armed men. The next day, Jassi’s body was found in a canal. Indian police allege her mother gave the final order for her death in a telephone call from Canada.
In 2005, seven men were convicted in Jassi’s death. Indian police allege they were paid by Badesha and Malkit to carry out the killing.
In 2012, Sidhu’s mother and uncle were arrested under the Extradition Act and have remained in custody ever since.
Two years later, B.C. Supreme Court judge ordered their extradition to India. But in February 2016, the B.C. Court of Appeals granted a judicial review of the extradition order after finding Malkit and Badesha could possibly be tortured if extradited to India.
FULL COVERAGE: Jassi Sidhu
The Minister of Justice initially ordered the extradition, conditional on assurances from India respecting the non-imposition of the death penalty, the applicants’ health and safety in custody, and consular access.
The court ruling in 2016 claims the pair challenged the Minister’s decision on the basis that India may not honour the death penalty assurance, that they may not receive a fair trial in India, and that the assurances are insufficient to meet the risk of torture, violence and neglect in Indian custody.
The ruling also stated at the time that if it becomes apparent that no guarantees of a fair trial from the Indian side are possible, the Minister could revisit the question whether the applicants could be tried in Canada.
The Supreme Court of Canada will begin hearing their case today and is expected to rule on whether or not the pair can be extradited to India.
~ with files from Yuliya Talmazan and Canadian Press