Following a complaint by the Australian cricket captain, Mr Ricky Ponting, the umpires brought a charge pursuant to 3.3 of the Code of Conduct for Players and Team Officials against Mr Harbhajan Singh.
This prohibits using language or gesture that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person's race, religion, gender, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.
The matter was heard by the ICC referee, Mr Mike Procter , on 6 January 2008. Mr Singh was found guilty of the charge as laid, and was banned for three Test matches.
Mr Singh has exercised his rights pursuant to Clause 11 of the Code of Conduct and has appealed against the referee's decision.
In accordance with Section H, Clause 11(c) of the Code of Conduct, the ICC legal counsel, Ms Urvasi Naidoo , appointed me to hear Mr Singh's appeal.
My name is John Hansen and I am a judge of the New Zealand High Court. I am a member of the ICC Code of Conduct Commission. I have held various judicial offices since 1979, firstly from 1979 until 1988 in Hong Kong and since 1988, in the High Court of New Zealand. I have had a life-long involvement with cricket, both as a player and administrator.
The appeals process contained in Clause 11 of the Code of Conduct puts in place a robust procedure to ensure for a fair hearing, in this case for Mr Singh.
It was felt proper that Mr Singh should have the benefit of a personal hearing in this case. The process of that hearing is left to the discretion of the Appeals Commissioner, in this case myself. However, in this case I have consulted counsel for Mr Singh and the Board of Control for Cricket in India , counsel for Cricket Australia and counsel assisting me, Mr John Jordan SC.
Following that consultation I have directed that the procedure to be adopted at the hearing will be as follows:
In accordance with normal sporting disciplinary hearings, and previous appeals, the hearing will be in private. This will be a re-hearing, with evidence being given by all of the witnesses who gave evidence to the adjudicator, Mr Procter. There may also be some additional evidence, such as the transcript available from the stump microphone, which was not available to Mr Procter.
The witnesses will give viva-voce evidence that will be led by counsel assisting me, Mr Jordan. Opportunity will then be afforded to both the counsels to cross-examine the witnesses.
Again, in accordance with the practice adopted for sporting disciplinary hearings, the evidence will not be on oath.
The hearing will commence tomorrow (Tuesday, 29 January) at the Federal Court in Adelaide at a time to be announced in due course and will follow the procedure I have just outlined.
I should add that Section H, Clause 11(e) of the Code of Conduct requires the Appeals Commissioner to hear and determine the appeal within seven days of appointment.
In this case, at the request of both the BCCI and Cricket Australia , I agreed to the adjournment of the hearing until tomorrow to enable all parties to be in a position to be prepared properly for this serious matter.
Given the time between Tests, the simple logistics of the matter did not allow a hearing to be convened within seven days in any event. A venue for the hearing had to be found. The necessary secretarial and transcription assistance needed to be put in place. Video links had to be arranged for witnesses and counsel who are overseas. Counsel had to be instructed. Obviously all these matters take some time.
At the end of the hearing I will consider my decision and reduce it to writing.
In accordance with Section H, Clause 11(g) of the Code of Conduct it will be forwarded to Mr Singh, Mr Procter, and the Chief Executive of the ICC. Following that required process I will deliver my decision publicly.
At that time written copies of my decision will be made available to the media.
As you will appreciate, this matter is effectively subjudice. In such circumstances it is inappropriate that I comment further, and for that reason there will be no questions.