Melbourne, Jan.26 : A leaked document from the ICC code of conduct hearing involving Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has revealed that his batting partner in the controversy-ridden Sydney Test, Sachin Tendulkar was not within earshot of the former when he (Bhajji) reportedly called Andrew Symonds a "monkey".
Match referee Mike Procter, who suspended Harbhajan for racism, has himself been condemned as a racist while Indian cricket board officials joined its players in threatening to abandon the tour after Procter handed down his three-match ban on January 6.
The Indians complained bitterly that the word of Symonds and two other Australian players was accepted over that of Harbhajan and Tendulkar in the hearing after the Sydney Test.
Procter' ruled Harbhajan had called Symonds a "monkey" and banned him for three matches, but details of his reasoning had remained private until now.
According to The Australian, Procter said in his written statement that Tendulkar could not have known what was said in the controversial exchange.
"It was submitted to me by Chetan Chauhan (the Indian team manager) that there was doubt because the umpires and other players did not hear the words but, in my judgment, they would not have been in a position to hear them," Procter wrote in a statement after the hearing.
"I note that Sachin Tendulkar only became involved when he realized that something was happening and was gestured over. He tried to calm things down because something had happened that he did not hear."
Immediately after the hearing, an anonymous Indian player called the Australians "liars" and "cheats". Some hours before that Anil Kumble had accused the local team of not playing in the spirit of the game.
Tendulkar allegedly then sent a text to Board of Control for Cricket in India president Sharad Pawar complaining about the treatment of Harbhajan in the emotional fall-out from the Test loss and his friend's conviction.
"Harbhajan is innocent and I can assure you on this. In this hour of crisis, the board should stand by him. I suggest we should play in Perth only if the ban is lifted," Sachin is reported to said in his text message to BCCI chief Sharad Pawar.
Pawar lead the Indian protest against a decision the board labelled "unacceptable" and the BCCI president claimed that Tendulkar reported to him that there was no question of racist comment.
The board issued a statement claiming it would fight "the blatantly false and unfair slur on an Indian player".
The match referee implies the Indians had claimed the Australians fabricated the charge out of dislike for Harbhajan.
The ruling has caused an international controversy and ICC cricket committee chairman Sunil Gavaskar is expected to be disciplined for writing in a newspaper column that Indians believed Procter accepted the word of the "white man" over that of the "brown man".
Gavaskar said "in effect, Tendulkar has been branded a liar by the match referee".
The BCCI has appointed one of the country's best lawyers, Venkatesh R Manohar, to represent Harbhajan at an appeal hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Adelaide.
Reports in Indian newspapers said Manohar would conduct the defence by tele-conference but the ICC said it expected him to arrive in Australia for the hearing.
New Zealand High Court judge John Hansen will conduct the hearing. Former Indian board president Inderjit Singh Bindhra is in Australia and has been involved in unofficial talks with Cricket Australia chairman Creagh O'Connor.
Some Indian papers claim the BCCI has cut a deal with the ICC to have the ban dropped and Harbhajan reprimanded.