A judge who issued an arrest warrant against Richard Gere for publicly kissing a Bollywood actress reportedly has been transferred from his job.
Judge Dinesh Gupta, a magistrate in the northwestern city of Jaipur, issued arrest orders last week for both Gere and Shilpa Shetty after the kiss at a public AIDS awareness event in New Delhi earlier in March.
The public display of affection 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.
The Times of India reported Thursday that Gupta was transferred from his post in Jaipur to the small town of Kishangarh several hours away. The paper quoted High Court Commissioner C.P. Singh as saying the transfer was “routine,” but he noted that the order came from a state chief justice. Officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gupta had issued the arrest warrant following a complaint by a local lawyer, who said the public kiss was obscene. After viewing footage of the event, Gupta called the embrace and kiss “highly sexually erotic.”
Gere, 57, apologized for any offense he may have caused in India, where public displays of affection are largely taboo. But he also said the whole controversy was manufactured by a small hardline 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.