Political leaders including Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Chief Ministers on Friday welcomed the death sentence awarded to four convicts in the Delhi gangrape case, saying justice has been done and that it will act as a “deterrent” against such heinous crimes.

“This was the rarest of rare crime...'Damini' and her family have got justice. I welcome the court ruling,” Mr. Shinde told reporters in Mumbai.

“The ‘nyay devta’ has set a new example for such culprits that if you commit such a heinous crime, then you will get a stringent punishment,” he said.

Mr. Shinde was speaking shortly after the four convicts -- Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh and Pawan Gupta -- in the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student inside a private bus in Delhi were sentenced to death by the Saket fast track trial court.

“There was an atmosphere in the country after this incident....We expected such a punishment,” he said.

Apparently referring to Defence Counsel A.P. Singh’s claim that the verdict was delivered under political pressure, Mr. Shinde said, “The judiciary follows the law and not political pressure.”

Mr. Shinde also referred to the new legislation based on the Justice Verma Committee report which recommended amendments to the criminal law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women. The panel headed by former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma was formed in the wake of the shocking Delhi gangrape incident.

“The new law has provision for hanging in rarest of rare cases,” he said.

Welcoming the verdict, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “Nobody will dare do such heinous crime in future.

Union Minister of State for Home R P N Singh said justice has been done finally to the 23-year-old victim

“Justice has been done. (I) agree with the judge there has to be zero tolerance for such crimes. That is the message that has gone out with this sentence,” he said.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said the severe punishment given to the convicts will act as a deterrent and that she was happy with the court verdict.

“I welcome the judgement. Justice has prevailed. The fast track court has delivered the justice expeditiously. I hope that the judgement would prove to be a deterrent,” Ms. Dikshit said in New Delhi.

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