The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Odisha government on a petition filed by Ravindra Pal, alias Dara Singh, seeking remission of his life sentence for the murder of Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines and his two minor sons in 1999, reported Live Law.

A bench comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and SVN Bhatti has given the state six weeks to respond to Singh’s plea.

On the night of January 22, 1999, a mob led by Singh had burned Staines and his two sons alive when they were sleeping in a jeep in the Manoharpur village of Odisha’s Keonjhar district.

Singh had reportedly whipped up passion against the Australian missionary, who he claimed was engaged in proselytisation and converting Adivasis.

He was sentenced to death in 2003. In 2015, the Odisha High Court commuted the sentence to life imprisonment and acquitted 11 other accused. The Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s ruling in 2011.

In his petition before the Supreme Court, the 61-year-old convict said that he has served more than 24 years in jail.

He also claimed that he had never been released on parole and could not perform the last rites when his mother passed away.

Singh said that he “has well understood and is repenting the consequences of his action taken in the fit of his youthful rage and at present seeks the mercy of this court so that he can give back to society through his service-oriented actions”, reported The Indian Express.

He said he “acknowledges and deeply regrets the transgressions perpetrated more than two decades ago".

“In the fervour of youth, fueled by impassioned reactions to the brutal history of India, the petitioner’s psyche momentarily lost restraint,” said Singh’s petition filed through advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, who has previously represented Hindu sides in disputes related to religious sites.

Singh pleaded that he be allowed pre-mature release from prison so that he could go back to society as a reformed person, reported Live Law. His petition refers to the 2022 Supreme Court judgement allowing the premature release of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Besides the murder of Staines and his sons, Singh has also been accused of the murder of a Muslim trader.