The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the shifting of three criminal cases pending against Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty and Hollywood actor Richard Gere, in relation to the ‘2007 kissing incident,' to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Mumbai.
A Bench of Justices A.K. Ganguly and J.S. Khehar, after hearing senior counsel Anand Grover passed this order on a petition filed by Ms. Shetty seeking transfer of the cases, the proceedings of which were stayed by the Supreme Court in May 2007.
Ms. Shetty in her petition said her Foundation was working on a wide range of issues, including the growing HIV/AIDS crisis in Asia, the need for prison reform and effective post-release programmes in the United States, poverty alleviation, education and cultural revitalisation in the Himalayan region and non-violent approaches to restore peace in the Middle East. It had also started the ‘Heroes Project' in India to mobilise social leaders, the media and various celebrities to fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
The petitioner was invited at the behest of the Project to address a meeting in Delhi on April 15, 2007 to create an awareness among truck drivers on HIV/AIDS. At the function, Mr. Gere, while reliving a moment from his Hollywood movie Shall We Dance (released in 2005) hugged and kissed her on the cheek. This was meant to be a spoof from the said movie. This was repeatedly telecast on the television channels.
In relation to the said incident, private criminal complaints were filed in the Magistrates' courts at Jaipur and Mundawar in Rajasthan and at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
She said that on April 20, 2007 the Mundawar court ordered investigation and barred Mr. Gere from leaving the country. On April 26, the Jaipur court issued summons to the petitioner and an arrest warrant against Mr. Gere. On May 1, the Ghaziabad court issued summons to her.
She said the complaints were an abuse of the process of the court filed only to harass and make her run from pillar to post and damage her career and reputation. Hence, she asked the cases to be transferred to Mumbai.