NEW DELHI: The judge hearing the case of four men convicted for fatally gang raping a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi in December sentenced them to death on Friday.
Judge Yogesh Khanna said the case fell into the “rarest of rare category,” which justified capital punishment.
“In these times when crimes against women are on the rise, court cannot turn a blind eye to this gruesome act,” he said.
All the four suspects were teary eyed as they entered the cramped room dressed more smartly than on Tuesday when they were convicted of a string of charges including murder and gang rape.
One of the men, Vinay Sharma, broke down in tears and cried loudly as the sentence was announced.
As the news broke, crowds inside the building and outside the courtroom roared with cheers and applauded the judgement.
The prosecution team congratulated each other, with lead lawyer Dayan Krishnan saying: “We did our job. We are happy with this sentence.”
The father of the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the family was also satisfied as he left with his wife and sons.
“We are very happy. Justice has been delivered,” he told reporters inside court flanked by his wife and sons.
Handing down his verdict at the end of a seven-month trial on Tuesday, Khanna found the men guilty of the “cold-blooded” murder of a “helpless victim” whose fight for life won her the nickname of Braveheart.
Feelings are running high in a country disgusted by daily reports of gang rapes and sex assaults on children.
A total of 1,098 cases of rape have been reported to police in Delhi alone so far this year, according to figures in The Times of India on Friday.
That represents a massive increase on the 450 recorded in the same period last year, although campaigners say the rise reflects a greater willingness by victims to come forward after the December bus attack.
Since the convictions, newspapers have printed graphic details of the onslaught against the student, including of the internal injuries she suffered while being violated with a rusty iron bar before being thrown naked off the bus.
Her injuries were so severe that she died nearly a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital. She briefly regained consciousness, telling family and friends of her desire to see her attackers burn to death.