A U.S. Parole Commission panel yesterday postponed a decision on whether former Maryland governor Marvin Mandel should be freed on parole.

Mandel, convicted on political corruption charges in 1977, has served just over three months of a three-year prison sentence at the U.S. prison camp in Eglin, Fla.

The panel, meeting here, sent the case back to a lower parole hearing board and ordered further review of certain aspects of the mail fraud and racketeering charges on which Mandel was convicted. The board will consider certain evidence presented in the case, and Mandel must have a chance to "rebut" that information before the commission decides his fate.

The three-member panel also delayed action on parole requests by three of Mandel's codefendants -- W. Dale Hess, Irvin Kovens and Harry Rodgers III.

Mandel and these three codefendants, who were sentenced under a first-offender rule, were technically eligible for parole from the day they began serving their prison terms. They appeared before parole hearing boards in July at their respective insituations, and on Aug. 14 a regional parole commissioner declined to rule alone on their parole requests. Instead, he forwarded them to the U.S. Parole Commission in Washington saying the case involved too much "national or unusual attention" to be decided by one commissioner.

Last month, the national commission requested additional information about the case from the U.S. Attorney for Maryland Russell T. Baker Jr. With that in hand, the original parole hearing board will now begin the process again.

Hearing boards will meet next week at Eglin, where Mandel, Kovens and Rodgers are serving their terms, and at the prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery Ala., where Hess is an inmate.

But a spokesman for the commission said it is "uncertain" whether the boards will take up the cases next week. Their next meetings are scheduled for November.

Mandel and the others were convicted on charges stemming from manipulations to increase the value of Prince George's County's Marlboro race track, owned secretly in 1972 and 1973 by Mandel's five codefendants.

After three years of appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case, and Mandel entered the minimum security prison on May 19.

Since then, Mandel has been working in the prison's clothing department, teaching inmate courses in current events and public speaking and pitching on one of the institution's softball teams, according to his wife, Jeanne.