OK for Gere to Visit India, Court Says

NEW DELHI (AP) -- India's top court suspended an arrest warrant Friday against Hollywood star Richard Gere, wanted for allegedly breaking public obscenity laws by kissing Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty at a public AIDS awareness event last year, an attorney said.

"Gere is allowed to come and leave. He can't be arrested," said Anil Grover, an attorney for Shetty, after attending the Supreme Court proceedings.

Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justice R. V. Raveendran indefinitely stayed the arrest warrant issued against Gere last year by a court in the northwestern Indian city of Jaipur, Grover told The Associated Press.

Gere embraced and kissed Shetty on her cheek at the public AIDS awareness event in New Delhi on April 15 last year, prompting Hindu hard-liners to allege the pair had offended the sensibilities of India's traditionally conservative culture.

Hindu activists filed three cases against the pair last year, including one in Jaipur.

The allegations of obscenity against Gere and Shetty have failed to stir wider outrage among Indians, most of whom have responded with utter indifference.

Grover called the cases "frivolous" and "a total misuse of the legal process."

Shortly after the cases were filed by Hindu activists, Gere apologized for any offense he may have caused. But he also said the whole controversy was manufactured by a small hard-line political party.

Gere, 58, is a frequent visitor to India, promoting health issues and the cause of Tibetan exiles, tens of thousands of whom live in India. His screen credits include "Chicago," "Pretty Woman" and "An Officer and a Gentleman."

Shetty, a well-known actress in India, became an international star after her appearance on the British reality show "Celebrity Big Brother."

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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