Harbhajan's hearing after the Adelaide Test

The ICC today made it clear that the case against Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh cannot be withdrawn at this stage.

updated: January 16, 2008 17:55 IST
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Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's appeal against the three-Test ban will come up for hearing on January 29-30 at Adelaide, according to an ICC spokesman.

The much awaited hearing will be held immediately after the fourth and final Test between India and Australia.

Harbhajan, who was slapped a three-Test ban by Match Referee Mike Procter after he found him guilty of racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds during the ill-tempered second Test in Sydney, had appealed against the ruling.

The ICC had appointed New Zealand High Court Judge John Henson as the Appeals Commissioner.

As per the ICC rules, the Appeals Commissioner has to conduct the hearing within seven days of his appointment but it could be extended, if the circumstances require.

Harbhajan's fate will be decided before the Indians go into the tri-series beginning from February 3 with Australia and Sri Lanka being the other teams.

Can't drop charges against Bhajji: ICC

India's decision to drop charges against Australian Brad Hogg may have raised hopes of a similar reprieve for Harbhajan Singh but the ICC today made it clear that the case against the Indian off-spinner cannot be withdrawn at this stage.

According to ICC rules, a charge cannot be withdrawn once an Appeals Commissioner has been appointed.

Chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle, who acted as the peace broker during the reconciliation meeting between rival captains Anil Kumble and Ricky Ponting in Perth, said, "Technically, no" when asked about whether the charge could be dropped.

ICC sources pointed out that the charges against Hogg were laid by India's administrative manager Chetan Chauhan, who later withdrew it before the hearing.

But in Harbhajan's case, the charges were brought by both the on-field umpires, after which ICC appointed John Hansen as the Appeals Commissioner.

"The process would go the full distance in this case", the source said.

Harbhajan was slapped with a three-match ban by Match Referee Mike Proctor who found the Indian off-spinner guilty of racially abusing Australia's Andrew Symonds during the ill-tempered second Test in Sydney.

Harbhajan has decided to appeal against the ruling but the ICC has still not fixed a date for the hearing.