Three weeks after the controversy erupted, the racism charge against Harbhajan Singh was found to be not proven by Justice John Hansen, hearing the appeal, on Tuesday. Harbhajan was instead charged with a Level 2.8 offence - abuse and insult not amounting to racism - to which he pleaded guilty and was fined 50 per cent of his match fees.
With this, the cloud over the immediate future of the Indian tour lifted; the Indian team, which had gathered in Adelaide in a show of support instead of proceeding to Melbourne for Friday's Twenty20 match, has now decided to continue with the original arrangements.
Harbhajan had been found guilty of racist abuse of Andrew Symonds during the Sydney Test in early January and handed a three-Test ban by match referee Mike Procter. The charge was leveled by the on-field umpires, Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson, on a complaint from Ricky Ponting,
During the hearing, oral evidence was called for from all the witnesses to the exchange between Harbhajan and Andrew Symonds - Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden and Sachin Tendulkar. The witnesses were then cross-examined by Brian Ward, counsel representing the Australians, and VR Manohar, representing Harbhajan.
Justice Hansen said he was convinced that, on all the evidence submitted before him, the charge of a Level 3.3 offence was not proven but that Harbhajan should be charged with a Level 2.8 offence. Harbhajan pleaded guilty to this charge, after which the fine was imposed on him. Hansen is scheduled to provide the full reasons for delivering his judgment on Wednesday evening.
After the hearing the two teams issued a joint statement emphasizing the need to move on and focus on the cricket. Harbhajan and Symonds said they had resolved the issue between them in