A Maple Ridge man is facing deportation to India because of lies his father told about his conviction in a notorious B.C. murder when he brought his family to Canada.
The Federal Court of Appeal has ordered a new immigration hearing for Barinder Singh Sidhu, the son of a man who obtained permanent resident status in Canada for himself and his dependents despite a conviction for the murder of Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu.
Darshan Singh Sidhu told immigration officials he had never been convicted of a crime when he landed at Vancouver International Airport on May 4, 2008, along with his wife and then-25-year-old son, Barinder.
He was, in fact, on parole for Jassi Sidhu’s killing.
According to Indian authorities, Jassi Sidhu was slain in 2000 when the 25-year-old Maple Ridge woman defied her family’s wishes by marrying a poor Indian rickshaw driver.
Her throat was slit and her body dumped in a canal in Punjab after she and her new husband were attacked by a group of armed men.
Darshan Singh Sidhu was one of seven people arrested and charged in India with Jassi Sidhu’s murder. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2005.
Darshan Singh Sidhu appealed to India’s Supreme Court and earned an acquittal in 2015.
But his murder conviction was firmly in place when he applied to become a permanent resident in Canada in 2007, meaning neither he nor his dependents would have been admitted had he been truthful about his criminal past.
The sins of the father
Darshan Singh Sidhu is now back in India. But when it comes to lying to a visa officer, the sins of the father may yet be visited upon the son.
“This is a somewhat unusual case,” says the appeal court decision, written by Judge Eleanor Dawson.
“This is not a case where, unknown to the dependants, a principal applicant exaggerated a qualification or other fact in his or her application for permanent residence. (The son) knew of his father’s conviction and that criminal convictions were of interest to the Canadian immigration officials.”
The courts have described the situation as “absurd” — largely because Darshan Singh Sidhu, who appears to have no interest in ever returning to Canada, has never faced an admissibility hearing.
And yet his son might be declared inadmissible even if his father never is.
The case centres around the issue of “misrepresentation” and what is described in the Immigration and Refugee Act as withholding “material facts relating to a relevant matter” like criminality.
‘An absurd result’
The federal appeal court ruling follows the case’s slow path through an Immigration Division hearing, an Immigration Appeal Division hearing and a federal court review of those decisions.
Both the immigration tribunals found Sidhu wasn’t responsible for his father’s lies.
The immigration appeal division concluded there “was no basis to conclude that (he) knew or ought to have known that he had a personal duty to provide information about his father’s criminality.
But the federal court ruling disagreed, finding that Barinder Singh Sidhu should face a new Immigration Appeal Division hearing.
The federal appeal court judges re-affirmed that decision, adding that Barinder Singh Sidhu shouldn’t be able to avoid an admissibility hearing just because his father has.
Otherwise it would “result in a situation where family members would not be subject to removal proceedings when, after landing, the principal applicant leaves Canada and remains outside of Canada in order to avoid an admissibility hearing,” Dawson wrote.
“This result would undermine the integrity of the immigration process and would be an absurd result.”
Darshan Singh Sidhu’s daughter is married to the son of Surjit Singh Badesha, Jassi’s uncle, who is currently facing trial in India along with Malkit Kaur Sidhu, Jassi’s mother.
The two appeared in an Indian court with black bags covering their heads shortly after their removal from Canada.
It is uncertain whether or not Barinder Singh Sidhu will appeal the federal court of appeal decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.