GHAZIABAD : A prosperous Indian dentist couple were sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for slitting the throats of their teenage daughter and domestic servant in a case that transfixed the nation.

Rajesh and Nupur Talwar had been convicted on Monday of murdering Aarushi, 14, and Nepalese domestic servant Hemraj Banjade at their home in an affluent New Delhi suburb in 2008.

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, a satellite city just outside the capital.

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, both successful, middle-class dentists, vowed to appeal against the conviction, insisting they were victims of police incompetence and a media witchhunt.

“They are determined to fight to restore the honour of their daughter till their last breath — and so are their lawyers as well,” defence lawyer Tanvir Ahmed Mir told reporters outside court.

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.

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 aspect of the investigation, has turned the Talwars into household names and has polarised public opinion.

Local newspapers, which have covered every twist and turn in the case, plastered Monday’s guilty verdict on their front pages Tuesday.

“MURDERERS!” said the tabloid Daily Mail over a picture of the distressed couple.

Top criminal lawyer Rebecca John said she would appeal the verdict and “not rest until this couple’s names are cleared.”