A day after Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal sought clemency for Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Tuesday declared the demand would be examined.
Shinde and minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur also met Congress president Sonia Gandhi during the day, triggering speculation that the meeting could be linked to the Bhullar case.
Badal and deputy prime minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had told the prime minister and home minister on Monday that his execution could disturb peace and harmony in the state.
"We will examine the demand of the Punjab chief minister," Shinde told reporters here.
Sources said Shinde's assurance was in the context of pleas not to hang him given Bhullar's psychiatric problems.
As part of this assurance, the Delhi government could set up a medical board to examine Bhullar's health. But this option would be exercised only if a political decision is taken on the timing of the execution.
Government sources suggested it would become a little difficult for the home ministry to indefinitely put off Bhullar's execution when it had moved swiftly and quietly to send Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru to the gallows.
Officials, however, suggest that if a fresh mercy petition citing Bhullar's deteriorating health is filed, the home ministry may not have much of an option but to put his execution on hold pending disposal of the petition. Bhullar has been at a medical facility for the last two years but the Supreme Court had held that his medical ailment was not such that he could not be executed.