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Criminal Law - Compelling appearance, detention and release - Release or detention after trial or pending appeal - Bail

Thursday, September 15, 2016 @ 8:00 PM  

Application by Sidhu for judicial interim release pending the Crown’s application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The country of India sought extradition of the applicant in connection with an alleged honour killing of her daughter. In 2000, the daughter and her husband were accosted by a group of armed individuals in Punjab. The daughter was found dead the following day. Proceedings in India resulted in the conviction of seven of 11 individuals charged with various offences related to the incident, including several of the daughter’s extended family. India alleged that the applicant and her brother arranged and/or paid for the killing due to the daughter’s firm resolve to preserve a marriage they opposed. The applicant was arrested in Canada in 2012 and denied bail. In 2014, the applicant was committed for extradition. In 2016, the Court of Appeal set aside the Minister’s surrender orders on the basis it was unreasonable to accept India’s assurances of the applicant’s health and safety in an Indian prison. The applicant, now age 67 and in deteriorating health, sought bail pending determination of the Crown’s leave to appeal application by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Crown opposed the relief sought on the basis the applicant might threaten and intimidate witnesses, and that her interim release would be contrary to the interests of justice and the public interest. The Crown submitted that circumstances remained unchanged since the applicant was first denied bail in 2012.

HELD: Application allowed. The applicant was alleged to have committed an abhorrent crime. Although India’s case against the applicant appeared strong, she had yet to be convicted of an offence and remained entitled to the presumption of innocence. The applicant had served a further four and one-half years in custody since her first application for bail. There was no evidence she had threatened or intimidated witnesses since 2000. In any event, the evidence suggested the applicant’s brother rather than the applicant had instigated witness intimidation tactics. Additional evidence suggested the applicant may not have acted independently of her brother in relation to her alleged role in the killing. The applicant’s time served, the prospect of further delay, and the evidence of the extent of her involvement favoured bail on strict terms consistent with house arrest.