Shetty appeals to Supreme Court over Gere kiss


NEW DELHI - Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty appealed to India's Supreme Court on Monday to drop obscenity charges brought against her for being kissed in public by Richard Gere.

Shetty, the winner of reality television show "Celebrity Big Brother", was at the center of controversy after Gere twirled her in his arms, arched her over and kissed her several times on the cheek at an anti-AIDS show in New Delhi last month.

A lawyer filed a complaint in a lower court, describing the kiss as an obscene act under Indian laws. The court ordered Gere's arrest, who has since left India.

Two similar cases have been filed in other courts.

"The complaints are a complete abuse of the due process of law," Shetty's lawyer Anand Grover said. "She is being victimized because she is a well-known personality."

The lawyer sought a stay on proceedings against Shetty and appealed for all the cases to be clubbed and transferred to Mumbai, where Shetty lives.

The maximum punishment under Indian law for obscenity is a two-year jail term or fine or both. Gere, too, has sought an end to what he has termed as a media circus.

Shetty shot into limelight after she was bullied and insulted by some of her Big Brother housemates, triggering allegations of racial abuse.

She ultimately went on to win the British TV contest.

Gere, a devout Buddhist, visits India frequently to meet the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in northern India, and is a vocal supporter of the Tibetan cause as well as being involved with charities dealing with AIDS and orphans in the country.