The Supreme Court today stayed the execution of four of Veerappan's aides until further notice.
The four were sentenced to death for their involvement in carrying out a landmine blast in 1993 which killed 22 people.
Gnanaprakasam, Bilavendra, Meesai Madhaiah and Simon had their mercy petitions rejected by the President on 13 February and are presently lodged in a jail in Belgaum, Karnataka.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said it was keeping the matter pending since another bench, which has heard an identical plea, has reserved its judgement.
"In our view, the proper course of action is to adjourn the matter until another bench renders its judgement on similar matters. Therefore, accordingly we adjourn the hearing of this matter for six months to enable another bench to deliver the judgement in another pending matter.
"As a consequence, the interim order staying the execution of petitioners (Veerappan aides) passed on February 18 shall continue" until further orders, the bench also comprising justices AR Dave and Vikramajit Sen said.
The bench noted that the subject matter of the petition was relating to the right of the death row convicts to get their sentence commuted to life imprisonment on account of delay of execution of their death sentence.
"This is the main question involved when this matter was taken by us. It was brought to our notice that other writ petitions involving the same issue were heard by a bench of two judges in which senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and TR Andhyarujina were requested as amicus curiae," the bench said.
The apex court also noted that the judgement in the writ petition heard by another bench on the issue was reserved on 19 April, 2012.
The bench said it has been informed by Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval that while considering the two writ petitions, of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and M N Das, the other bench had the occasion to consider similar matters in which the mercy petitions were pending before the President.
The CJI said that since another bench has already heard and reserved its judgement on the issue, there is a possibility that the pleas of Veerappan aides can be heard by the same bench also.
The court is hearing two petitions, out of which one was filed by the four convicts and the other by advocate Samik Narain, on their behalf.
Urging the apex court to intervene, the four death convicts pleaded that a decision on their mercy petition has been delayed by nine years and as per its earlier order they are entitled to seek remedy for undue long delay in the execution of the sentence of death.
A lawyer for the four men said that the apex court has directed the state of Karnataka to file their say in two weeks.
"We have sought that the death sentence be commuted since there has been a delay in disposing of their mercy petitions. The four of them are in bad health and are in their fifties or sixties", he said.
The Supreme Court said it would wait until the judgement in Devinder Pal Singh case is delivered and adjourned the case for six weeks.
Singh was found guilty of killing nine bystanders in a 1993 car bombing and sentenced to death by hanging by split decision. He is also a suspect in two other deadly terrorist attacks in India.
The families of the convicts had sought that the execution order be stayed till the Supreme Court decides on the petition of those convicted in the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi