Home Minister Shivraj Patil [Images] on Tuesday indicated in the Lok Sabha that the government was unlikely to take an early decision on the clemency petitions of Mohammed Afzal Guru, sentenced to death in the December 13, 2001, Parliament attack case.
Responding to Leader of Opposition Lal Kishenchand Advani's [Images] demand for a decision before Wednesday, the anniversary of the attack, Patil said no deadline had been set in such cases earlier.
"This has never happened earlier. Records show that the government took five years to tackle such matters even in the past," he said, citing the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Upon this there was an opposition uproar, prompting Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi to remark that Advani should have apologised to the House first, before raising the issue, for failing to protect Parliament.
There was further protests from the opposition.
Earlier, Advani said the family members of one the nine security personnel killed in the attack had returned the government honour, protesting against the delay in hanging Afzal.
"Things should not be allowed to drag on. The government owes the martyrs a decision (on the clemency petitions) by tomorrow," he said.