New Delhi, Dec 02, 2023: The Delhi High Court on Saturday sought the Centre’s response on a plea by the mother of a Kerala woman, who is on death row in Yemen for killing a Yemini national, seeking facilitation of her travel to that country to negotiate with the victim’s family about paying blood money to save her daughter.
The plea, which was filed during the day, was listed for urgent hearing before Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora who issued notice to the central government on the petition at a special hearing.
The government’s counsel, who sought time to take instructions on the plea, submitted that the authorities are not advising the woman’s mother to visit Yemen as it could be risky.
Yemen’s top 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.
Blood money refers to the compensation paid by offenders or their family to the family of a murder victim.
Advocate Subhash Chandran KR, representing the petitioner, said a letter informing about the Supreme Court of Yemen dismissing Priya’s appeal was received on Friday 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 about paying blood money.
During the hearing, the counsel for the Centre told the court that Priya’s mother was denied permission to travel to Yemen due to volatile conditions in the middle east. Also, no Indian consular service was available in Yemen currently, the lawyer told the court.
“We advised that please don’t go there because it will not be possible for us to provide any service. There is no single Indian there to help you or to provide security to you. We don’t want people to go there or to be exposed to hostile position. There is no consular officer there or even connection with the current government in Yemen,” he submitted.
On being asked by the court if the woman wishes to travel to Yemen at her own risk, her counsel said in case the government is not able to initiate negotiations, she will have to do it on her own after going there.
The Centre’s counsel also told the court there are no direct flights operating from India to Yemen.
The court then asked the Centre’s counsel to take specific instructions about whether the woman can be permitted to fly to the nearest country in case she wants to travel to Yemen at her own risk.
Justice Arora said the minor child cannot travel to Yemen as she cannot be allowed to be subjected to any risk or hostile environment.
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 last month asked the Centre to take a decision within a week on the woman’s request to travel to Yemen.
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.