Actress Shilpa Shetty is officially cleared of obscenity charges after the Hollywood star kissed her at an AIDS awareness event.
Indian actress Shilpa Shetty has been officially cleared of obscenity charges dating back to when Hollywood star Richard Gere publicly kissed her on the cheek at an AIDS awareness event 15 years ago.
The incident sparked a local firestorm at the time, with right-wing Hindu groups burning effigies of the two celebrities to protest the perceived insult to Indian values.
A judge soon after issued arrest warrants, with the two charged with various counts of obscenity and indecency.
Charges against Gere were quickly dropped, allowing the actor – one of the world’s best-known Buddhists – to return to India in 2010 for a meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
But the case against Shetty languished in India’s slow legal system for more than a decade until it was finally thrown out in Mumbai last week.
In a court order released on Tuesday, a judge said the charges against the actress were ‘baseless’ and that she had been the subject of an unwanted romantic advance by Hollywood A-listers .
“It appears that…Shilpa Shetty is the victim of the alleged act of Accused #1 (Richard Gere),” the order reads.
Footage from the 2007 incident shows Gere kissing Shetty on the hand, before hugging her tightly and planting repeated kisses on her cheek, while the two were on stage.
Shetty’s attorney said the whole case hinged on the fact that “she didn’t protest when she was kissed by the co-defendant.”
“This in no way makes her a conspirator or the perpetrator of a crime,” added the lawyer.
Shetty, 46, has yet to issue a public statement in response to the court order.
In 2007, she defended Gere’s actions and blamed India’s “moody fringe” for the uproar.
Gere later apologized for his exuberant display, apparently an attempt to demonstrate that kissing was a safe activity that did not spread AIDS.
Shetty is perhaps best known outside India for appearing on the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother in 2007.
The series was engulfed in scandal after Shetty was allegedly racially bullied by fellow contestants.