Seventeen Indians who were sentenced to death for murdering a Pakistani man in a bootlegging case in Sharjah in 2010 will walk free after an appeal court dropped their punishment on Monday, after over Rs 4 crore was paid as blood money to the victim's family.
The Sharjah appeal court accepted the appeal after the victim Misri Nazir Khan's blood relatives dropped their request for capital punishment, Consulate General of India in Dubai confirmed.
It also acknowledged the role of local businessman and Indian Punjabi Society founder president SP Singh Oberoi for his "extraordinary selflessness in spearheading the community initiative to resolve this case".
"After about 18 months and in its seventeenth hearing the case has seen a closure. Today the honourable judge Abdullah al-Shamsi of the Sharjah court of appeals ruled that the accused be deported after a 2-year sentence."
Since the 17 have already been imprisoned for over 2 years now, their release appears imminent.
The consulate is processing their travel documents and will arrange for their air tickets to India.
"The exact date of release and deportation will also depend on some procedural clearances by the UAE government," the consulate statement said.
Lawyers handling the case said the 17 men, 16 from Punjab and one from Haryana, got the lease of life due to an out-of-court blood money settlement amounting to Rs 4.36 crore (3.4 million dirhams).
Mohammad Ramzan, a representative of the victim's family received the blood money (Diyyah) in court and signed a pardon for the suspects.
On March 28, 2010 the Sharjah Court of First Instance had pronounced the death sentence on the 17 Indian nationals, who were accused of killing a Pakistani national in January 2009.
According to the Consulate, given the extraordinary nature of this case the Government of India decided to appeal the verdict and defend the accused.
"During the appeals process, the honourable Sharjah court of appeals suggested that both sides consider a mutually agreeable understanding for an early resolution of the case.
Such an understanding was also desired by the accused.
Guided by the same opinion, some members of the Indian community, led Oberoi, independently contacted, pursued and reached a compromise with the family of the deceased," it added.
Advocate Bindu S Chettur, a member of the legal firm defending the Indians said, "As part of the procedures, the court can ask for a settlement and it is at the discretion of the parties on whether to agree to a settlement or not.
As per this procedure, the Indian community members led by SP Singh Oberoi, who were already negotiating for a settlement, proposed to pay the blood money. The settlement did not come through the intervention of the lawyers or the Consulate," she was quoted as saying by Khaleej Times.