For those sentenced to death, however, their punishment is often delayed for years. India has about 308 people on death row, according to the latest data available from 2007. Most of them are waiting on appeals to higher courts, and 49 of them are in the last stage of appeal to the president.
The 49 include three Sri Lankan Tamils convicted in the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and three others convicted in twin bomb blasts in Mumbai in 2003.
In the past decade India has executed only one person, a rapist and murderer, in 2004. No foreign national has been executed in India since its independence in 1947.
It is unclear whether Pakistan will continue to press for Kasab's extradition. Relations between the two countries worsened after the 2008 attack, when India accused Pakistan of not cracking down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, and have only recently begun to improve.
In Mumbai, the sentencing was widely anticipated. In interviews with the local media this week, residents and relatives of the victims had been mostly calling for a death sentence. Some, like Ransley Santhumayor, who was shot four times in the leg by a gunman at Leopold Cafe near the Taj Hotel, say the sentence brings no relief.
“Hanging this guy is not going to fix anything, it's one more person dying,” says Mr. Santhumayor. “At least if they rehabilitated him, some people may be inspired ... and there may be a few less Kasabs.”
On Thursday, the judge accepted the prosecution's arguments that Kasab deserved to be hanged not just for the gravity of his crime but for the manner in which it was done. Kasab displayed extreme cruelty in his attack on the city’s biggest train station and appeared to enjoy killing commuters, the prosecution argued.