Demonstrators shout slogans and raise their hands during a candlelight march for a gang rape victim, who was assaulted in New Delhi January 16, 2013.
Demonstrators shout slogans and raise their hands during a candlelight march for a gang rape victim, who was assaulted in New Delhi January 16, 2013.Reuters/Adnan Abidi

The four convicted men in the Delhi gang-rape case have been given death sentence on Friday

The announcement of the punishment evoked cheers from the public outside the special fast-track court in Delhi which dealt with the case.

The court in its judgement on the four accused - Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Singh and Akshay Thakur, declared, "Everybody got the death penalty,".

Reacting to the landmark judgment, activist Rekha Palaria was quoted by Reuters as saying,"This is a very good decision. I think this will be effective in reducing crime against women as people will be scared. This should become a precedent in such cases." 

"We are so happy. We have been protesting at Jantar Mantar, at India Gate, and we have waited for so long. This should have happened long ago. I think this will instil fear in people. And they will think before they commit any crime against women." -said Ashok Gupta a street vendor voicing the mass sentiment. 

The victim's mother, who was present at the court, could hardly contain her joy saying, "Today, we can breathe a little easier, our hearts were in our mouths."

Soon after the four convicts were sentenced to death, protestors gathered outside the court house demanding an equal sentence for the fifth accused, a minor who was sent to three years in a reform home.

During the Friday court proceedings, a defence lawyer pointed to the political pressure into the case in reference to home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's earlier comments that the accused deserved death. The lawyer insisted that the comments had swayed to a foregone conclusion, thus hampering the chances of winning leniency for the accused .    

Security was tightened in the court premises and the surrounding areas were heavily barricaded. Police were also seen trying to vacate the area fearing an outbreak of riots post the judgment.

On Tuesday, the court had convicted the four men on charges of rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on 16 December last year. The session ended in an argument between the two sides and the defence pleaded for leniency on the grounds that the accused held no crime records and calling the incident a mistake. The prosecution had rubbished the claims citing the gravity of the crime which claimed the victim's life.

Even though, the fast track court have meted out death sentence, the case is expected to drag further as the defence will file counter appeal to High Court which may further be dragged to Supreme court and the Presendiatial mercy is the last resort. Under the present judicial system, the process could take years before the accused are met with the pronounced sentence.