The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a petition filed by a man from Kerala, challenging the High Court’s dismissal of his request to release his “spiritual live-in partner”, Live Law reported. The man alleged that his partner had been illegally detained by her parents.

The bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde observed that being in the custody of parents did not amount to illegal detention. “There is a big difference between custody and detention,” the bench observed. “If a daughter is said to be in her parents’ custody, it does not mean that she is detained.”

The court added that illegal detention was the only consideration for a habeas corpus petition, and that it did not find any such evidence in this case.

The petitioner, a 52-year-old man, claimed to be a spiritual guru. His lawyer told the court that the 21-year-old-woman wanted to join him willingly.

While dismissing the man’s petition, the Kerala High Court had found that the woman was not mentally sound. The petitioner’s lawyer challenged this finding in the Supreme Court.

“She [the woman] is a gold medalist in college,” senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan said. “High Court comes to the conclusions based on its interactions, contrary to Mental Health Act. Credentials of the petitioner are not relevant for habeas. The Court dragged his reputation through mud.”

The Supreme Court bench asked the lawyer if the woman had been locked up by her parents. The lawyer said that she had given statements about her illegal detention and even complained to the Human Rights Commission.

“If a person is of unsound mind, she will say many things,” the court said in response. “Mental soundness is one aspect. Illegal detention is another aspect. We see no finding that she is under illegal detention of her parents. Custody is different from detention.”

The Kerala High Court had concluded that there were no signs that the two ever lived together or that the woman’s parents had taken her away illegally, according to Bar and Bench.

The High Court had also distinguished this case from the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Hadiya case, where the woman had married a man and converted her religion willingly.