Today’s Times of India has carried a news item speculating the possible outcome of India’s appeal against Mike Procter’s verdict on Harbhajan Singh. The report says Indian legal eagles are trying hard to reduce the penalty from match-ban to one of fine. The report smacks of ignorance of the ICC Conduct Rules.
For a level 3.3 offence which Harbhajan has been found guilty of, no fines can be imposed as penalty. It can only be match-ban. Had it been a Level 4 offence, the penalty could have been so reduced as it would have been applicable to a Level 3 offence. If fines are to be imposed rather than match-ban, then the Level of offence should have been either 1 or 2, which cannot apply to Harbhajan Singh at all.
Secondly, the ICC conduct rules do not allow Plea Bargaining. Therefore, it is surprising that the so-called legal eagles are in fact suggesting that fines could be imposed on the Player in lieu of the match-ban. Are they not suggesting that even imposition of fines would make the Player guilty of the offence under Level 3.3? The intense criticism in the media following Procter’s decision was not against the intensity of the punishment, but against the finding of guilt itself.