A minister in the Haryana government on Tuesday said Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has the right to seek parole, ANI reported. A Central Bureau of Investigation court had sentenced Singh to life imprisonment in January for ordering his followers to murder a Sirsa-based journalist.

“Every convict has the right to seek parole after an year, he made a request which we forwarded to the Sirsa district administration,” ANI quoted state Jail Minister KL Panwar as saying. “Further action will be taken based on the report.”

The minister also claimed there was no politics involved in the timing of the request, NDTV reported. He said the government could have released Singh before the Lok Sabha elections had it been motivated by political gains.

The court had convicted four people in the murder case on January 11. Singh is currently serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for raping two of his followers in 2002. He is also accused of murdering former Dera manager Ranjit Singh.

In April, the Punjab and Haryana High Court denied Singh interim bail to attend the marriage of his foster daughter, citing possible law and order problems ahead of the General Elections.