An Indian court has sentenced dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar to life in prison for the murder of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj Bangade.
The court on Tuesday announced its sentence, which also included five years' imprisonment for the Talwars for destruction of evidence, after a brief hearing. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which probed the case, sought the death penalty for the couple while the defence sought leniency.
A court in Ghaziabad, adjoining the capial New Delhi, had convicted the couple on Monday for the killings of their 13-year-old daughter and the Nepalese domestic help in 2008.
The conviction has already kicked up a nationwide debate over what is being viewed as the most polarising judgement in recent times.
Reacting to the sentence, defence lawyer Rebecca John termed it a "witch-hunt and miscarriage of justice". According to her, the CBI, which had at one time applied for closure of the case had sought the death sentence which made it clear it was a witch hunt.
John said the action would now shift to the Allahabad High Court where the judgement would be challenged.
While those close to the dentist couple termed the court’s conclusions on circumstantial evidence as inadequate, prosecution lawyers who backed the judgement said there was no one else other than the four – Rajesh, Nupur, Aarushi and Hemraj - at the time of the murder, and it was simply logical that only the two could have killed the other two.
Among other things in its 204 page order, the court stated that "parents are the best protectors of their own children. That is the order of human nature but there have been freaks in the history of mankind where the father and mother became the killer of their own progeny..."
Following Monday's conviction, Aarushi's parents were taken into custody and sent to the Dasna Jail.
The sensational murders had shocked the nation, with messy investigations that followed, further heightening public interest in it.