Harbhajan Singh's successful appeal against his Level 3 transgression, and its replacement with a Level 2 charge, seems on the surface of things to be the right decision, though I think the penalty imposed (50 per cent of his "match fee" - whatever that is) is light. The use of obscene language in an abusive context, regardless of the language in which it is spoken, is abhorrent.
We will know later today more about Justice Hansen's reasons for the findings when he releases his full written statement. Meanwhile, the reports that are coming out concerning back-room deals before the appeal hearing are very disturbing.
When I raised the question of "perverting the course of justice" yesterday, I was joking. Having read the Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Telegraph and The Australian this morning, I have stopped laughing. Regardless of the (inevitably) excessively pro-Australian rhetoric in some of these articles, the descriptions of the behind-the-scenes machinations - if accurate - are deeply disturbing.
Call it plea bargaining? No, you can't plea-bargain at the appeal stage. Could Australia have withdrawn the charge? No, too late once Mike Procter's decision was handed down.
Bearing in mind the purpose of an appeal hearing (in this case, to hear Harbhajan Singh's appeal against his Level 3 Code of Conduct breach conviction and his three-Test suspension), there are two things that can happen outside the court room: (i) further evidence is submitted, or (ii) the appellant withdraws his appeal.
(ii) was never going to happen. We know that (i) was done in the form of a stumpcam transcript, evidence which appears circumstantial.
Three questions for now:
- Did any talks behind the scenes between BCCI and CA have any impact on Justice Hansen's finding?
- Have any persons in Australia or India engaged in collusion to unduly influence Justice Hansen's finding?
- Bearing in mind the commercial contracts involved, have any of the people involved committed any criminal conduct?