New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to direct the involvement of the union government in the payment of ‘blood money’ in connection with the death sentence awarded to a Kerala woman in a murder case in Yemen, and said that no embassy can be part of negotiations to pay blood money.
Justice Yashwant Varma, who was hearing a petition by an organisation seeking Centre’s intervention to save the life of the Indian citizen – Nimisha Priya, said the court cannot ask the government of India to countenance such a payment and requested the authorities to facilitate the appropriate legal action against the conviction of the woman.
The petitioner, ‘Save Nimisha Priya International Action Council’, sought a direction to the Centre to facilitate diplomatic interventions as well as negotiations with the family of the victim on behalf of Nimisha Priya to save her life by paying blood money in accordance with the law of the land in a time bound manner .
Blood money refers to the compensation paid by an offender or his kin to the family of the victim. “No embassy can be part of negotiations to pay blood money. You can do it personally, privately”, the court stated.
In so far as the first relief is concerned, the court cannot command the union to be a party to the negotiations which the family of the convict proposes to initiate, it opined.
Lawyer Subhash Chandran K.R., appearing for the petitioner, said that the petitioner will pay the blood money and negotiate with the tribe of the victim but the assistance of the government was needed in view of the present social and political situation in Yemen.
The court stated that it can, at best and in law, call upon the Centre to facilitate the petitioner in pursuing the judicial remedy under the laws of Yemen.
Union government lawyer Anurag Ahluwalia said that bearing in mind that the convict is an Indian national, the authorities shall take all proactive steps to institute an appeal before the next appellate forum in accordance with the prevalent law and the concerned consular shall extend all cooperation and facilitate the travel of the petitioner to Yemen. “Accordingly, concerned Ministry is requested to duly pursue the remedy against the order of conviction as affirmed by court of appeal”, the court stated.
The court further requested the Ministry of External Affairs to communicate to the concerned consulate to facilitate the travel of the petitioner as well as to provide help of interpreters, if so required.
The petition said that Priya was an Indian nurse working in Yemen, and she was convicted in 2020 for the murder of the Yemini national. It said Priya was accused of murdering Talal Abdo Mahdi, who died in July 2017 after she injected him with sedatives to get her passport that was in his possession. It said she injected him with sedatives so that she could take her passport from him while he was unconscious. However, he died of an overdose.
The plea alleged that Mahdi had forged documents to show that he was married to her, and that she was allegedly abused and tortured by Mahdi.
Though she appealed against the death penalty, it was rejected, it said, adding that another chance of appeal before the Supreme Court there still exists but Priya is unlikely to be spared and therefore, her only hope to come out of death sentence is if the victim’s family accepts blood money.
Now, the only way for her to escape from the death penalty is to gain pardon from the family of the deceased by paying blood money to the family in accordance with the law of land. It has come to know from the lawyer who represented her before the appeal court that the option for ‘blood money’ is kept open by the appeal court, the plea said.
It said the woman’s nine-year-old daughter is living in an orphanage, her mother is a domestic help in Kerala, and her husband is an auto rickshaw driver. The entire family is facing serious challenges to deal with the ongoing legal processes there, it added.
The petition also sought direction to the Centre to immediately initiate necessary steps for filing a formal appeal before the Supreme Court/ Supreme Judicial Council to save the life of Priya in accordance with the law of Yemen.