Show Yemen court gave option of blood money to victim's kin to save Kerala woman from gallows: HC

“File that portion with an affidavit where the Yemen court while awarding death penalty has given this legal option of paying blood money,” Justice Subramonium Prasad said
Nimisha Priya (R) and her mother (L)
Nimisha Priya (R) and her mother (L)

New Delhi | The Delhi High Court Monday asked the mother of a Kerala woman, who is on death row in Yemen for killing a Yemeni national, to place documents to show that the foreign court gave her the legal option of paying blood money to negotiate with the victim's family and save her daughter from the gallows.

The high court was hearing a plea by Nimisha Priya's mother seeking facilitation of her travel as well as of three others to Yemen to negotiate with the victim's family.

Blood money refers to the compensation paid by offenders or their kin to the family of a murder victim.

The counsel for Priya's mother Prema Kumari informed Justice Subramonium Prasad that the Yemen's Supreme Court, which on November 13 dismissed her appeal and upheld the death sentence, gave her a last option of escaping the gallows by securing a pardon from the victim's family after paying blood money.

“File that portion with an affidavit where the Yemen court while awarding death penalty has given this legal option of paying blood money,” Justice Subramonium Prasad said, while listing the matter for Tuesday.

Advocate Subhash Chandran K R, who represented the petitioner, said blood money is a part of the legal system in Yemen as they follow Sharia law and that is why the court there has given this option.

Yemen's Supreme Court had on November 13 dismissed the appeal of Nimisha Priya, who was working as a nurse in the west Asian country, against her sentence.

Priya has been convicted of murdering Talal Abdo Mahdi, who died in July 2017, after she injected him with sedatives in order to get back her passport from his possession.

It was alleged that Priya administered him sedatives so she could take back her passport while he was unconscious but he died of an overdose.

Priya's mother moved the high court earlier this year seeking permission to go to Yemen in spite of a travel ban for Indian nationals and negotiate the blood money to save her daughter.

As the petition also sought permission for Priya's minor daughter to travel to Yemen, the judge said he was not considering the prayer since it is too risky.

“I am not looking at the daughter at all. I am looking at the mother's desperate attempt to save her daughter who can be hanged any time” the judge said.

The counsel appearing for the Centre contended that India does not have diplomatic ties with Yemen and it has closed down its embassy there.

He said it would not be desirable for the mother to visit the foreign nation currently riven by strife and added that earlier the situation in the Middle East region was peaceful but not now.

The petitioner's lawyer had said a letter informing the family about the Supreme Court of Yemen dismissing Priya's appeal was received on December 1 and her execution can take place anytime.

The lawyer said the petitioner was not asking the government to pay blood money and was only seeking permission to travel to Yemen.

The plea sought the court's direction to the Union government to facilitate the travel of the petitioner, Priya's 10-year-old daughter, and two other adult family members to Yemen to try and save her after negotiating with the victim's family.

The 'Save Nimisha Priya International Action Council' had approached the high court last year and sought 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".

The petition alleged Mahdi had forged documents to show he and Priya were married and abused and tortured her.

The high court had earlier refused to direct the Centre to negotiate payment of blood money to save Priya's life but asked it to pursue legal remedies against her conviction.

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