Judge ML Tahaliyani’s sentence comes three days after Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 22, was found guilty of murder and waging war against India for his role in the attacks in the nation’s financial capital in 2008 in which 166 people were killed.
A death sentence, which is carried out by hanging in India, must be reviewed by the High Court. Pakistani Kasab can also appeal against the decision and apply for clemency to the state and central governments.
India blames the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for masterminding the attack.
The judge rejected arguments by Kasab’s lawyer, K.P. Pawar, that he had committed the crime under duress and pressure from Lashkar.
The judge said Kasab joined the militant group on his own and trained to be a fighter. “Such a person can’t be given an opportunity to reform himself,” the judge added.
The special prosecutor in the trial, Ujjwal Nikam, said he expected it would take at least a year for Kasab to be executed.
Although India voted against a moratorium on capital punishment at the United Nations in 2007 and 2008, in practice, the country has been veering away from applying the death penalty.
Only one person has been executed since 1998 – a man convicted of raping and murdering a 14-year-old girl, who was sent to the gallows in August 2004. Many convicts simply wait, as bureaucratic disregard – which some say is purposeful neglect by politicians wary of capital punishment – effectively transmutes a death sentence into life in prison.
People responsible for the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and a 2001 attack on India’s Parliament have yet to be executed.