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Lawyer son of Kanishka bombing suspect misled court, says panel

By Bal Krishna
Last updated on: September 18, 2009 09:35 IST
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The lawyer-son of Ripudaman Singh Malik, acquitted in the Air India plane Kanishka Air bombing case, has been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Law Society of British Columbia.

Jaspreet Singh Malik was cited by the society in January 2006 over his involvement in his father's application for government funding for his defence team during the trial of the Air India plane bombing.

He provided an affidavit in a legal aid hearing known as Rowbotham application, which was later dismissed by a judge. The B C Supreme Court Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein found that testimony of the Malik family was "simply unbelievable" and the family had colluded to mislead the court about the value of their assets.

In a ruling on Thursday, a law society panel dismissed part of the case against Malik, but found that he had misled the court in his affidavit.

"The respondent is a lawyer and an officer of the court, and in this case he was also a witness, and as such he had a duty to ensure that the court was not misled by anything he said as a lawyer, or as a witness," said the panel.

"We conclude that the respondent, by providing the misleading information, whether or not he did so in the execution of a plan to which any other person was a party, misconducted himself professionally."

The misleading information related to claims that the lawyer and his siblings were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by their dad for unpaid wages at the family hotel in Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia.

In his affidavit, Malik said he and his siblings were promised payment for the wages but had a limited ability to pay and the wages were recorded as contingent liabilities.

"On its face, that sworn evidence was at least misleading if not false," said the panel. Malik should have disclosed in the affidavit, as he testified before the panel, that initially there was no discussion on how or when the wages would be paid, but after his father was charged and given the approach taken by his father's counsel on the Rowbotham funding, that in late 2001 or early 2002 steps were taken to show these retroactive wages as "deferred salaries," it said.

Several other allegations against Malik were rejected, including an allegation that the lawyer had provided false or misleading information to the Business Development Bank of Canada to help his family get a lower interest rate on the mortgage on their hotel.

Jaspreet may face penalties ranging from a reprimand to disbarment depending on the severity of the offence. The society could not be reached for comment in this regard.

In 2005, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajib Singh Bagri were acquitted in the June 1985 Air India plane bombing that claimed the lives of 331 people.

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Bal Krishna in Toronto
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