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Indian police move against artist

7 May 07 12:54 GMT
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Police in India's financial capital Mumbai (Bombay) have started legal proceedings to seize property belonging to controversial artist MF Husain.

The order came after he failed to attend hearings in a court regarding an obscenity case filed against him.

Police say that steps are now being taken to pursue the order.

Mr Husain is one of India's best known artists. Last year he publicly apologised for a painting in which he depicted the country as a nude goddess.

Confiscation

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

Officers have now placed a notice outside the flat in the upmarket area of Mumbai where Mr Husain's son lives.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Brijesh Singh, told the BBC website that steps are now being taken to compel the accused - now aged 91 and living abroad - to present himself in court.

He said that the authorities are taking steps to find details of properties owned by the artist so that they can begin the process of confiscating his assets.

Mr Husain's lawyer, Akhil Sibal, told the BBC News website that he only came to hear of the case through the media.

Obscenity cases

"We have not received any summons from a court as far as I am aware. Now that this has happened, we will take appropriate legal steps," Mr Sibal said.

"We will approach the Supreme Court very soon and file a petition asking for the transfer of this case to Delhi just like we had for other cases and then we'll see what happens."

Mr Husain's nude painting sparked off a series of obscenity cases that were registered against him in four different courts.

His legal team say that it would not be feasible for a man his age to travel to several different places.

Mr Husain is now thought to be living in the Middle East.

Despite the controversy, 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.

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