New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to direct the central government to negotiate the payment of blood money to save a Kerala woman, who is on death row in Yemen for the murder of a Yemeni national. A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi said there was no merit in the appeal by ‘Save Nimisha Priya International Action Council’ against the single judge’s order asking the Centre to pursue legal remedies against the conviction in Yemen, provide consular assistance and interpreters as well as facilitate the travel of the convict’s family, and that no direction can be passed to the government to enter into negotiation with the deceased’s family for payment of blood money.
The single judge, in its order passed last month, had also refused to direct the involvement of the central government in the payment of blood money in connection with the death sentence awarded to the woman and had said that no embassy can be part of negotiations to pay blood money.
Blood money refers to the compensation paid by an offender or his kin to the family of the victim.
The single judge has granted the relief that could have been given. “What do you have in mind? You should go and negotiate. Who is stopping you?” the bench also comprising Justice Navin Chawla asked the appellant.
“It is for the appellant to now proceed to Yemen and undertake the negotiations with the family of the victim. We do not find any merit in the appeal,” ordered the court.
Central government lawyer Anurag Ahluwalia submitted that while the authorities would initiate all legal actions in relation to the conviction and have not denied consular access, government of India would not get into negotiations for blood money.
The counsel appearing for the appellant said he did want the central government to get involved in the negotiations but the authorities should extend all support to the cause. “The stand of the appellant is rather confused. He desires that the Union of India should negotiate with the family of the deceased victim to offer blood money. The stand of the Union is clear. No direction can be issued in this regard,” the court said.
The appellant’s counsel said the Centre’s assistance would be needed for transfer of funds in case the negotiations for payment of blood money are successful. The court responded that the appellant can come back once that stage is reached.
In the appeal, the appellant sought a direction to the Central government to facilitate diplomatic interventions as well as negotiations with the family of 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. In the petition before the single jugde, the appellant had said Priya was an Indian nurse working in Yemen and she was convicted in 2020 for the murder of the Yemini national.
It had 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 had 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 had 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 but it was rejected, it had 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 escape death sentence is if the victim’s family accepts blood money.