A former judge of the Madras High Court on Wednesday denied joining the Bharatiya Janata Party at a membership drive in Chennai in July, The Hindu reported.

Justice M Jaichandren, who is now the chairperson of the Puducherry Human Rights Commission, said in a letter to the media on Wednesday that he had been at the July 6 event to discuss certain legal matters of importance. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was also present at the event.

“It is learnt that there had been a widespread reporting in the various newspapers and the electronic media [television news] sometime back, that I had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] as a primary member,” Jaichandren said in a statement.

The former judge admitted that he was present at the event but said he was there at the behest of some friends from the legal fraternity to discuss matters of legal importance. “However, there was no such arrangement made for a private meeting with him [Prasad] and as the place was extremely crowded, I was requested to be on the stage, set for the meeting, awaiting the arrival of Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad,” Jaichandren added.

Jaichandren said that after Prasad arrived and made a speech, he was invited to become a member of the BJP, “which was a total surprise for me, as that was not the intention of my being at the venue of the meeting”. Reiterating that he is not a member of the BJP, the former judge requested office bearers of the party to remove his name from the list of party members, if it had been inserted.

The former judge also told The Hindu that the intention of his visit was to meet Prasad in private that day and discuss legal matters regarding the welfare of advocates, and recent laws enacted in these matters.

Jaichandren also told the newspaper that the delay of five months in explaining his stand was because he had initially considered his presence at the event a “non-issue”, but his acquaintances kept inquiring about his affiliation with the BJP.