Ghaziabad: Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar were sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for slitting the throats of their teenage daughter Aarushi and Nepalese domestic servant Hemraj Banjade in a case that transfixed the nation.

The couple had been convicted on Monday of murdering Aarushi, 14, and Hemraj at their home in Noida in 2008, following a trial whose every detail was scrutinised by the media.

Judge Shyam Lal rejected prosecution requests for the death penalty during a hearing on Tuesday, instead giving the couple life in jail for the killings that investigators allege were carried out with “clinical precision".

“Life imprisonment is the basic sentence. We are satisfied with the judgement. The case has come to an end," prosecutor R.K. Saini told a horde of reporters outside the court in Ghaziabad.

The couple’s jailing was the latest twist in the long-running case that has been awash with sexual rumours and allegations of police bungling and media bias.

Investigators said the Talwars killed Aarushi in a fit of rage after finding her with the 45-year-old servant in an “objectionable position", suggesting the double murder was a so-called honour killing.

The couple, successful, middle-class dentists, vowed to appeal the conviction, while their lawyers launched a scathing attack on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“The battle is not over, it has only begun. We will file an appeal and we are convinced that the conviction will be overturned," defence lawyer Tanvir Ahmed Mir told AFP.

The trial came as India increasingly focuses on violent crime against women following the fatal gang-rape of a student in Delhi last year that sparked outrage over the country’s treatment of women.

The case has also raised awkward questions about the relationship between wealthy Indian families and the poor, often-migrant servants who cook, clean and look after their every need.

Top criminal lawyer Rebecca John accused the CBI of incompetence and abuse of power. It first closed the investigation, citing lack of evidence—only to later reopen the case at the parents’ request and charge them with murder.

“For an agency that asked for a closure of the case to then ask for the death sentence, I think it is a grotesque abuse of power and it raises fundamental issues about our society in the administration of justice," John told CNN-IBN.

“I think this very demand of the CBI (seeking the death penalty) is indicative of the witch-hunt that has taken place in this case."

Aarushi, whom friends described as a chirpy, high-achieving student, was found on her bed with her throat cut one morning in May 2008.

Police initially blamed the missing domestic servant Hemraj—only to find his decomposing body on the roof a day later with a similar cut throat and head wounds.

Officers then arrested Rajesh Talwar’s dental assistant and two other local servants—Hemraj’s friends—but they were freed for lack of evidence.

The botched probe—police failed to seal the crime scene or to find the second body for over 24 hours—prompted investigators to close the case in 2010, citing “critical and substantial gaps" in the evidence.

The Talwars insisted they wanted the killers found and petitioned the court to reopen the case—only to be charged themselves with murder.

The prosecution has conceded there was no forensic or material evidence against the couple, and based its case on the “last-seen theory"—which holds that the victims were last seen with the accused.

The case has spawned a nation of armchair detectives debating every twist and turn of the investigation, has turned the Talwars into household names and has polarised public opinion.

Salacious news reports, based often on claims by unnamed police sources, have appeared about their lives, demonising them as decadent—even allegedly as part of a wife-swapping club. AFP

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