VANCOUVER - A man acquitted in the Air India bombings has repaid the British Columbia government $6.3 million in legal costs and now he wants it back.
Ripudaman Singh Malik is arguing he should be granted an appeal of the judgment that required him to hand over the money the government paid to cover his 2003 and 2004 trial costs. A court hearing is scheduled on the matter next week.
Malik also sued the B.C. and federal governments for malicious prosecution and violation of his charter rights but has discontinued that application.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for the millionaire businessman told the B.C. Court of Appeal that the Appeal Court judge made errors in fact when deciding Malik must pay back the legal fees.
Malik and his co-accused Ajaib Singh Bagri were acquitted in 2005 of mass murder and conspiracy charges related to a pair of 1985 Air India bombings that killed 331 people, mostly Canadians from Vancouver and Toronto.
Court heard Tuesday that after repeatedly failing to file the necessary documents in his ongoing fight against repaying his legal fees, Malik paid $6.3 million, including interest, on Feb. 29 after selling a downtown Vancouver building he owed with his wife.
After wrangling at the time of the trial, the B.C. government agreed to pay Malik's legal fees, and Malik agreed to pay it back eventually, but he also argued he needed more than the government was prepared to provide.
Now, Malik argues he made the pay-back agreement under duress.
On Feb. 3, B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Daphne Smith said in a written decision that Malik's appeal of the ruling ordering him to pay back the government had been dismissed as abandoned.
She said Malik failed to show any bona fide attempt to pursue the appeal, to which there was no merit.
Smith also noted Malik’s “history of attempting to defraud the province and admitted contempt of court orders."
Malik's second appeal is based on that ruling, although B.C. Supreme Court Judge Sunni Stromberg-Stein, who turned him down for extra legal funding during the trial, said he was using his family to hide his assets.
In April 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada granted the B.C. government access to evidence that was seized in a bid to prove Malik can afford to pay his multimillion-dollar legal bill.
A bail hearing in 2000 heard Malik and his wife Raminder Malik had a net worth of $11.6 million, although he made a court application less than a year later, saying he had no money to fund his legal defence.
Inderjit Singh Reyat is the only person who's ever been convicted for his part in the Air India bombings.
In November 2010, he was found guilty of perjury at Malik and Bagri's trial and was handed a nine-year sentence, but he appealed that decision.
Malik's hearing next week will be before B.C. Supreme Court Judge Ian Josephson, who acquitted the pair in March 2005.