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Warrant out over kiss

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Mumbai
  • Published 26.04.07
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Mumbai, April 26: The dreary proceedings in a Jaipur court were spiced up today by a kiss that has left many breathless.

An arrest warrant was issued against Richard Gere for a peck on Shilpa Shetty’s cheek that the judge found “highly sexually erotic” after watching the video footage. The two actors were at an AIDS awareness programme for truck drivers in New Delhi.

Shetty’s attitude was “co-operative” and she did not restrain herself but kept inviting Gere for the “kissing episode”, which stretched for a good while, judge Dinesh Gupta said.

Their actions had “transgressed all limits of vulgarity and have the tendency to corrupt the society”, the Jaipur additional chief judicial magistrate said.

Gere has been booked for obscenity, which can invite a jail term of three months or a fine or both.

The court said Shetty was equally involved in an action not permissible under Indian laws and which “denigrated” Indian culture, tradition and social values.

“Therefore, she is an accused under Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code (obscenity),” it said, acting on a PIL filed by a Jaipur resident. They have both been asked to appear in court on May 5.

The judge directed the superintendent (headquarters), Jaipur, that since Gere was a foreigner and could leave India, he should be arrested at the earliest. Gere has already left.

Shetty is away visiting temples around the country. Her spokesperson, Dale Bhagwagar, said: “Shilpa hasn’t received any court summons or arrest warrants. Shilpa has always maintained that what happened that day… was a sweet and cute gesture.”

A sweet gesture is not how the Sangh parivar outfits see the peck. Activists in Varanasi, Bhopal, Kanpur, Indore, Delhi and Mumbai have burnt effigies of the stars.

Parmeswar Godrej, who had organised the AIDS awareness programme, defended Gere as “a committed, undaunted and tireless worker for the cause”.

Jaipur superintendent S.C. Kalla said the police were still awaiting the arrest warrant from the court. “We expect to receive the warrant tomorrow, which we will then send to Richard Gere wherever he is, and to Shilpa Shetty,” he said.

“It is likely the accused will seek bail... perhaps even before we arrest him,” Kalla said.