Nimisha death row: Delhi HC notice to Centre on mother’s plea to travel to Yemen
The Delhi high court has directed the Centre to take instructions for allowing Nimisha Priya’s mother to travel to Yemen at their own risk but refused to permit the travel of her 10-year-old daughter
The Delhi high court on Saturday sought the Centre’s response to a plea of a Kerala woman for facilitating her travel to Yemen to save her daughter, who has been sentenced to death for murdering a Yemeni man, by paying blood money – compensation-- to the victim’s family.
Nimisha Priya, a nurse, was sentenced to death by the trial court in Sana’a, Yemen, in 2020 and her sentence was upheld by the appeal court in 2022. In November 2023, the Yemen Supreme Court dismissed her appeal but kept the option of paying blood money open.
A bench of justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora on Saturday directed the Centre to take instructions for allowing her mother Prema Kumari along with two other persons to travel to Yemen at their own risk but refused to permit the travel of her 10-year-old daughter.
“10-year-old minor daughter. We can’t ask him (Center’s counsel) to take instructions. Please understand it’s not going to the garden. Let’s not expose the child to danger,” the judge said to advocate Subhash Chandran who appeared for the mother.
Taking note of the existence of the Embassy of Yemen in the capital, the bench however granted her mother liberty to approach the Embassy for initiating negotiations with the deceased’s family and posted the case for December 4, 2023.
The mother— Prema Kumari was constrained to approach the high court due to the travel ban imposed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to Yemen. The ban was promulgated on September 26, 2017 in view of the fragile political and security situation in the country and continues to remain in force. Indians since then have been permitted to travel to that country only for “special and essential reasons” or with prior permission from the MEA.
On Friday, MEA advised Nimisha Priya’s family to reconsidere their decision in view of the ministry’s inability to arrange facilities for the family due to the absence of official ties of the Indian government with the government in Sanaa.
“There are no formal relationships established with the current dispensation in Sanaa. You will also be aware that in the last few months, regional developments have become more challenging and safety of travel consequently a greater concern,” a letter written by MEA official Tanuj Shankar to Premakumari said.
On Saturday, Kumari appearing through advocate Subhash Chandran submitted before the court that the Supreme Court of Yemen had dismissed Nimisha Priya’s appeal, and the execution could happen anytime. He added that the only way to save her was by paying blood money.
Center appearing through advocate Pavan Narang submitted that the MEA had denied the permission keeping in view the current middle east issue and in light of India not having a diplomatic presence to look after their wellbeing. He further submitted that the Indian embassy had been relocated to Djibouti because of the disturbed conditions. “We don’t want our people to go there and be exposed to some hostile treatment. There is no counselor base or counselor office there,” the counsel further submitted.
Kumari in her plea has contended that her daughter can only escape gallows if she gains pardon from the victim’s family by paying blood money to the family in accordance with the law of land (Shariah Law). She in her plea also stated that her travel is imperative because in case of the victim’s family agreeing to pardon her, she won’t be able to pay the same due to restrictions by Indian authorities on financial transactions to Yemen.
Notably, on March 15, 2022, the high court, while dealing with a plea filed by members of Save Nimisha Priya – International Action Council to facilitate diplomatic intervention as well as negotiations with the family victim’s family on Nimisha’s behalf to save her life, recorded Center’s undertaking to take proactive steps to institute an appeal and extend assistance to facilitate her mother’s travel.
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