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Famous Indian painter M.F. Husain said Tuesday he planned to return home from self-imposed exile after the country's Supreme Court cleared him of charges of offending Hindus with his nude depiction of "Mother India.''

"At last, the dignity of the Indian contemporary art has been upheld by the Supreme Court as expected,'' Husain said when reached by telephone in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Husain, whose works have sold for millions of U.S. dollars, has been living in Dubai for more than two years since his painting - - which shows a nude woman on her knees creating the shape of a map of India - caused an outcry among hard-line Hindu groups, which filed several legal cases against him.

On Monday, three Supreme Court judges described his painting as a work of art and rejected a petition by complainant Dwaipayan Vekateshacharya Varkedkar seeking Husain's prosecution for offending Hindus.

"It is an art like the sculptures. None get scandalized looking at the sculptures,''

The Times of India quoted the court as saying.

An elated Husain said he would consider returning to India after he has finished his work in Dubai. "It could be this year,'' he said.

Akhil Sibal, attorney for Husain, said the Supreme Court's ruling would serve as a benchmark in three other cases pending against Husain in New Delhi courts accusing him of offending the sentiments of Hindus.

Last year, a court in the northern Indian city of Hardwar issued arrest warrant against Husain after he failed to appear to answer these charges.

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