The Madras High Court has ruled that the 19-year-old daughter of a Hindu priest who married 36-year-old All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLA A Prabhu earlier this month, has the right to live with her husband, News18 reported on Friday. The court dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by the woman’s father, Swaminathan, alleging that Prabhu, a Dalit, had kidnapped her.

Based on Swaminathan’s plea, the court asked the woman, Soundarya, to appear before the court. Soundarya appeared before a division bench comprising judge MM Sundresh and D Krishna Kumar. In her testimony before the court, Soundarya said she had not been kidnapped, but had married Prabhu of her own free will and wanted to live with him. The court subsequently allowed Soundarya to stay with Prabhu.

Swaminathan had claimed in court that Prabhu began a relationship with Soundarya when she was a minor, NDTV reported. “Prabhu was in love with my daughter for four years, even when she was a minor,” he said. “She was under his control.” But Prabhu had earlier this week released a video with his bride, claiming that they have been in love for four months.

He said his family had approached the woman’s family seeking permission for the couple to marry, but were rebuffed. But the couple went ahead with the wedding, which was held at Prabhu’s home on October 5.

Earlier this week, Swaminathan had said his objection to the marriage was not based on caste, but on the 17-year age difference between Prabhu and Soundarya. However, in court on Friday, he made no mention of this.