New Delhi: Last year, a bench headed by then-Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had called the electoral bonds case a “weighty issue (which) would require an in-depth hearing”. But Gogoi has now said he does not remember the case, which has been in the Supreme Court since 2017.
Gogoi, who retired as the CJI in November 2019, was nominated by President Ram Nath Kovind to be a member of the Rajya Sabha on 16 March. He took oath as an MP last week.
In a television interview to Times Now Saturday, Gogoi said: “Electoral bond issue, I do not remember, frankly.”
An electoral bond is a kind of promissory note or bearer bond which is purchased by an individual, firm, company or association, and subsequently passed to a political party, which can get it encashed from the State Bank of India. The bond carries neither the name of the buyer nor the payee, giving complete anonymity to the donor.
While the SC had heard the 2017 petition seeking a stay on electoral bonds only in April 2019, it had refused to give a judgment on the issue, arguing that the case required an in-depth hearing. The court did not put an interim stay on the controversial scheme either. It did, however, ask political parties to submit details of donors to the Election Commission in sealed covers. It is learnt that the information is with the EC.
‘Justice Gogoi didn’t change, perception did’
In 2018, Gogoi, who was then next-in-line to be CJI, was part of an unprecedented press conference conducted by four Supreme Court judges, in which they had expressed reservations about then-CJI Dipak Misra’s style of functioning.
In Saturday’s Times Now interview, Gogoi said the same people who had hailed him as a good judge in the aftermath of that press conference began criticising him later.
“Justice Gogoi — he was good after the press conference… Somewhere down the line, he became a rotten apple,” he said, referring to himself in third person.
“I did not change… 20 years of my judgeship, I did not change,” he said. “The perceptions changed because I remained constant.”