Bollywood Actress Shilpa Shetty Appeals for Indian Court to Shift Richard Gere Kiss Case to Mumbai

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty asked the Supreme Court on Monday to shift an obscenity case against her and Hollywood star Richard Gere to a nearby court so she can fight the allegations, her lawyer said.

Shetty asked the court to transfer jurisdiction over the case to Mumbai, where she lives, lawyer Anand Grover said.

A judge in the northwestern Indian city of Jaipur issued an arrest warrant last month for Gere and summoned Shetty to his court, saying that Gere's kissing of the actress at a public AIDS awareness event in New Delhi contravened India's strict public obscenity laws.

The judge has since been transferred from his post, and official charges have not yet been lodged.

The Supreme Court will rule on the issue Tuesday, Grover said. Both defendants would be affected by any shift of venue.

"In the meantime, the court should stay proceedings against Shetty," he said, adding that he was not representing Gere in the case.

It was not immediately clear if Gere would be represented by an Indian attorney.

Public displays of affection are largely taboo in India, and the kiss drew an outcry among Hindu hard-liners, with rallies against the actors held in several cities. But the judge's arrest order also drew harsh criticism in India, with some lawyers saying it had no legal merit and made the country look ridiculous.

Gere, 57, 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, who left shortly after the kiss, is a frequent visitor to India, promoting health issues and the cause of Tibetan exiles. The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has his headquarters in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala.

Shetty, a well-known actress in India, became an international star after her appearance on the British reality show "Celebrity Big Brother."

A fellow contestant, Jade Goody, sparked international headlines by allegedly making racist comments to Shetty, 31. The comments sparked public outrage in Britain and India and Shetty went on to win the competition.