The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt softens Tuff stand on snake, Sapre & Soman

Mumbai, June 7: It’s all right, finally, to be dressed in just a python. Or is it that a government has chosen to grow up'

Ten years after booking models Madhu Sapre and Milind Soman for appearing in a naked embrace in an ad for Tuff shoes wrapped by the reptile, the Maharashtra government has decided to drop charges of obscenity against them.

In an application filed before a metropolitan court on June 1, the prosecution has said that it is ready to drop the charges as “there is no prima facie case” against the accused. “The case is (a) very old one and no purpose will be served by examining the prosecution witnesses,” the prosecution said. The court hears the application tomorrow.

The ad, made by the agency Ambience, first appeared in a Mumbai newspaper in July 1995, and turned into a cause celebre overnight. The government had booked six persons, including the models, the printer, the photographer, the editor and the director of the agency, after a PIL was filed at the metropolitan court.

Sapre was not willing to speak, but her lawyer Dipesh Mehta said this was an “admirable gesture” from the government. Sapre, a former Miss India, had faced the brunt of the violent protests, perhaps because of her gender.

Soman said he was “shocked” to know the charges were dropped after such a hue and cry and all these years.

The ad world too welcomed the move, but more as a gesture that was long overdue.

“The government must have dropped the charges because it realised how silly it was,” said adman Prahlad Kakkar. “There was nothing obscene about the Tuff ad. It would have been obscene if the ad had featured me and the Shiv Sena lady who took the lead in the protests.”

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