Source AP ©

Lawyers file complaints against actor Richard Gere and Bollywood's Shilpa Shetty

Three lawyers have filed complaints in Indian courts against Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty for kissing at a public function, a news report said Wednesday.

In his complaint, attorney Poonal Chandra Bhandari accused the actors of committing "an obscene act" in a public place, which India's conservative society cannot tolerate, PTI said.

Two other lawyers filed another complaint in a court in Ghaziabad, a town on the outskirts of the Indian capital, against Shetty and private television channels for showing videos of the kissing incident, the news agency added.

Such cases against celebrities - often filed by publicity seekers - are common in ultraconservative India. They add to a backlog of legal cases in the country that has nearly crippled the judicial system.

The complaints filed Tuesday came a day after angry crowds in several Indian cities burned effigies of Richard Gere after he wrapped Shetty in his arms and kissed her several times on her cheeks during an AIDS awareness event in the Indian capital.

On Tuesday, Magistrate Dinesh Chandra Gupta, in the northwestern Indian city of Jaipur, ordered private television news channel NDTV to provide the original videotape of the incident by next week, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Reena Chaudhry said she would hear that complaint on April 18.

Photographs of Gere, 57, embracing Shetty, 31, and kissing her on the cheek were splashed across front pages of newspapers Monday in India - a country where public displays of affection are largely taboo.

Shetty tried to end the controversy by saying that the hug and the kiss were not obscene and that the public was overreacting.

On Wednesday, her representative, Dale Bhagwagar, declined comment on the court complaints but said Shetty was paying a price for being an international celebrity.

"The media should concentrate on the promotion of the cause of AIDS awareness rather than making an issue out of kisses," Bhagwagar told The Associated Press.

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