Court Says OK for Gere to Visit India

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

"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 the actor 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.

His publicist, Alan Nierob, said in an e-mail Friday to The Associated Press that Gere would have no comment on the matter.

Hindu activists filed three cases against Gere and Shetty last year, including one in Jaipur.

The allegations of obscenity against the pair 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."

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