Man convicted in Jassi Sidhu's 'honour killing' obtained permanent residency in Canada
A man convicted in India in the so called "honour killing" of Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu became a permanent resident in Canada while on parole.
The revelation — the latest twist in a story that dates back to a notorious slaying in the province of Punjab in 2000 — is laid out in a recent federal court ruling.
According to documents filed in the case, Darshan Singh Sidhu became a permanent resident on May 4, 2008, when he landed at Vancouver International Airport along with his wife and son.
He was on parole at the time after being convicted, in India, of murder three years earlier.
The court documents say the family was sponsored by his daughter, who is married to the son of one of two Canadians currently fighting extradition to India for allegedly masterminding Jassi Sidhu's killing.
Darshan Singh Sidhu lied about his criminal status on his application.
He is currently in India, but the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is fighting to have his son — who lives in Maple Ridge, B.C. — declared inadmissible for an alleged lack of "candour" about his father's past.
"There is no dispute ... that Darshan Singh Sidhu was inadmissible to Canada and lied on the application forms, when he denied having criminal convictions. He had been found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment when he filed his application and when he was landed. [His son] and his mother failed to mention this in their application for permanent residency and at the point of entry interview," wrote Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley..
"However, the .... declaration that [the son] signed did not ask for information about any criminal convictions that other family members may have had — only his own."
Permanent residency while on parole
According to Indian authorities, Jassi Sidhu was slain in 2000 for defying her family's wishes by marrying a poor Indian rickshaw driver.
The 25-year-old's throat was slit and her body dumped in a canal after she and her new husband were attacked by a group of armed men.
The federal court judgment says Darshan Singh Sidhu was one of seven people arrested and charged with Jassi Sidhu's murder in India. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on October 21, 2005.
"Darshan Singh Sidhu was alleged to have arranged the killing on behalf of members of her family in Canada," the ruling says.
He appealed the conviction.
The federal court ruling says the Supreme Court of India ultimately acquitted Sidhu in 2015, giving him "the benefit of the doubt" because the telephone used to orchestrate the killing "was not under his exclusive control.
His brother also had access to it."
But according to Mosley's ruling, Sidhu had long been a permanent resident by then, applying in 2007 under the family class, along with his wife and son.
His daughter is married to the son of Surjit Singh Badesha, Jassi Sidhu's uncle. Indian authorities have charged Badesha and Malkit Kaur Sidhu — Jassi Sidhu's mother — with murder.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled the pair should be extradited in 2017, but their removal was halted on a last minute application to the B.C. Court of Appeal.
The pair will apply to stay their extradition in April, as a remedy for what they claim was an elaborate plan to whisk them out of the country before they could exhaust a last opportunity for clemency.
According to Mosley's ruling, Darshan Singh Sidhu was released on bail pending his appeals at various times, and he was also released on parole to bring in crops during the harvest season.
The federal court file includes a report prepared for the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi, which claims the 63-year-old visited Canada four times between 2008 and 2011.
The report claims he was issued a Canadian passport in Vancouver in 2009 that expires next year.
'It would lead to an absurd result'
Mosley's ruling concerns an application by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for a judicial review of an Immigration and Refugee Board appeal division finding that Sidhu's son, Barinder Singh Sidhu, should remain a permanent resident.
The ruling doesn't say when Canadian officials became aware of Darshan Singh Sidhu's history, but they appeared to know by the time Barinder Singh Sidhu was interviewed at a Canadian consulate during a trip back to India in 2014.
A year later, an immigration officer issued a report declaring the son inadmissible on the grounds that he "did not disclose and/or withheld information concerning his father's conviction."
The proceedings are complicated by the fact that Darshan Singh Sidhu, himself, has never appeared at a hearing to be declared inadmissible.
Both the Immigration and Refugee Board and the appeal division (IAD) sided with Barinder Singh Sidhu's argument that he shouldn't be punished for a "duty of candour" to disclose his father's conviction.
"It would lead to an absurd result, the IAD found ... if he was found to be inadmissible when his father, who had an obligation to disclose his conviction, is not subject to an admissibility hearing and will not be unless he attempts to return to Canada," Mosley wrote.
But the judge said the Immigration Appeals Division should reconsider the case anyway.
"There is no dispute between the parties, that, but for Darshan Singh Sidhu's misrepresentation, [his son] would not have been admitted to Canada as an accompanying family member," Mosley wrote.
"His permanent resident status is therefore predicated upon a lie, albeit a lie by his father, when they applied for and gained entry to Canada."
'They can't report him for what his father did'
Bardinder Singh Sidhu's lawyer, Aleksandar Stojicevic, says his client has been living in Canada for the past 10 years. He has a wife and two children who were born here.
"The government has to prove that he actually misrepresented something," he says.
"Our position is that there is no misrepresentation by him, and his father isn't here, so they can't report him for what his father did."
Stojicevic says he has little doubt the high-profile nature of the case has made his client a target.
"But to be fair to them, they also see a situation where the integrity of the system is in question here. We rely on people to tell the truth on these forms. Obviously, it's a significant misrepresentation on the father's part," he said.
"My point is that permanent residents, at some point, are insulated from this kind of thing when they're not the responsible party."
Citizenship and Immigration Canada said they could not comment on the case without consent.