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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Indian painter in court reprieve
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

MF Husain
This is not the first time Mr Husain's work has caused controversy
The Supreme Court in India has put on hold all legal proceedings against one of the country's best-known and most controversial artists.

Lawyers acting for MF Husain told the BBC that the court had ordered that a warrant for his arrest be dropped.

It was issued by a lower court after he failed to appear before it in a case in which he is accused of obscenity.

He is alleged to have offended Hindus with a painting in which he represented India as a nude goddess.

Similar cases have been filed against Mr Husain in a number of Indian states.

Apology

On Monday police said that they had begun the process of seizing possessions belonging to the 91-year-old - who lives abroad - after a ruling by a court in the city of Haridwar in the northern state of Uttaranchal.

Painting by MF Husain
Mr Husain's work has been critically acclaimed

But speaking after Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling, the artist's lawyer, Akhil Sibal, told the BBC News website that the court had stayed all obscenity proceedings against him "including the arrest warrant and other processes against the artist as ordered by the Haridwar court".

Mr Sibal said the country's highest court was also considering having the case transferred to Delhi, where five similar cases against the artist are being heard.

On Monday the Haridwar court ordered the seizure of the artist's property after he failed to attend a hearing.

Last year Mr Husain publicly apologised for a painting in which he depicted India as a nude goddess.

He promised to withdraw the controversial painting from a charity auction, after Hindu nationalist groups accused him of hurting their religious sentiments.

The nude painting sparked off a series of obscenity cases in four different courts.

The artist's legal team say it would not be feasible for a man of his age to travel to several different places.

Mr Husain is now thought to be living in the Middle East. His paintings are much sought after and are auctioned for millions of dollars.

He has even made two Bollywood films, although both bombed at the box office.




SEE ALSO
Indian police move against artist
07 May 07 |  South Asia
Indian painter sorry for nude art
08 Feb 06 |  South Asia
Indian painter agrees $21m deal
10 Sep 04 |  South Asia
Smashing India's sexual taboos
29 Oct 02 |  Entertainment
Storm over nude art in India
04 Sep 00 |  South Asia
Bidding for Bollywood art
20 Feb 02 |  South Asia

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