Adelaide, Jan.29 : Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was cleared of a racism charge by an appeals court headed by a New Zealand judge here today. He was instead charged 50 per cent of his match fee for offensive behaviour, and his offence was revised from a Level Three one to a Level Two under the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Code of Conduct for players.
New Zealand Judge John Hansen's verdict has been welcomed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which had said that racism remark against Harbhajan would not be accepted and warned that it would abandon the tour of Australia if the charge stood.
BCCI President Sharad Pawar said he was "happy" over the decision and confirmed that the Indian team's Australia-tour would continue.
Earlier, Australia had insisted that the spinner should not be totally exonerated, while reportedly agreeing to drop the racism charge against Harbhajan.
Accompanied by Indian media manager Dr MV Sridhar, Harbhajan arrived at the Federal Court in Adelaide this morning to give his side of the story on the episode in the Sydney cricket Test in connection with the ICC Code of Conduct appeal.
It maybe recalled that a three Test match had been imposed on Harbhajan by match referee Mike Procter at the end of the controversy-ridden second Test between India and Australia played at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney.
Harbhajan was accused of calling Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds a "big monkey" during the Sydney Test.
Indian players had reacted strongly to the charges against the off-spinner. Senior player Sachin Tendulkar maintained that Harbhajan had not said anything racist to Symonds during the confrontation in Sydney.