Open Letter to the President of India: Order Judicial Enquiry into the Electoral Bonds Scam

Electoral Bonds- Latest revelations indicate NDA involved in quid pro quos/ intimidation/ extortion/ money-laundering through shell companies, in getting a lion’s share of corporate funding at the cost of public interest- independent judicial enquiry called for

Electoral Bond


Smt. Droupadi Murmu

Hon’ble President of India

Respected Rashtrapati Ji,

Kindly refer to my letter of 7th March 2024 on serious public interest concerns arising, among other issues, from the Electoral Bonds scheme, recently held illegal by the apex court ()

Since then, there have been numerous, highly disturbing investigative reports that revealed the questionable manner in which the BJP, the largest beneficiary of the scheme and the brain behind it, deployed it to extract donations from private businesses by offering them dubious, unwarranted quid pro quos, intimidating private companies and extorting donations from them, in some cases, possibly laundering illicit money through shell companies, all resulting in an irreversible damage to the public interest and endangering human lives. I have covered these aspects in my detailed article, accessible at

In the article cited, I have indicated how political parties, particularly, the BJP, received donations from some drug companies whose substandard drugs have endangered people’s lives, especially children’s lives and compromised the public interest. 

The donors included even companies incurring losses, generating money from unknown sources, suggesting money being laundered in the guise of bond donations, due to the anonymity associated with the scheme. 

In the specific case of Silkyara tunnel collapse in Uttarakhand in November, 2023, the contracting firm evidently failed to provide an escape exit for the workers as per a decision of the Union Cabinet, resulting in the lives of 41 unwary workers hanging in a precarious balance for more than a fortnight and the BJP-led NDA government which is reported to be wantonly trying to obfuscate the penal aspect of investigation against that errant company, is reported to have received a handsome donation from that very same company, perhaps by way of a quid pro quo.

It is important to take note of the fact that the brain behind the electoral bonds scheme was the NDA government led by the BJP. The highly non-transparent, regressive electoral bonds scheme marked the low point of a series of equally toxic legislative measures rushed through the Parliament during 2016-17, opening the floodgates to corporate donations to political parties, especially donations from foreign sources hurting the national interest.

But for the relentless efforts made by several civil society activists before the apex court and elsewhere, the sordid details of the electoral bonds scheme would never have come to light.

It is the BJP that is behind designing and engineering the highly opaque electoral bonds scheme and benefited from it as its largest beneficiary. It is the BJP-led NDA government that could misuse the Enforcement Directorate, the CBI and the Income tax authorities to intimidate private companies and extort donations from them. It is the same BJP-led NDA government that is responsible for amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act, the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act and for tweaking clearance procedures, soft-pedalling investigations against errant businesses to collect donations through the scheme. Once again, it is the same NDA government that deliberately allowed legislative gaps to persist in the Companies Act, the SEBi Act and regulations, the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act and other related laws, to permit domestic and overseas shell companies to flourish and resort to money-laundering, manipulate the stock market, which in turn possibly helped the BJP to receive additional bond donations.

The NDA government designated the SBI as the agency to manage the electoral bonds scheme in a manner that ensured anonymity of donors for everyone except the government. The BJP, acting through the NDA government, deliberately planted its representative on SBI’s Board of Directors to oversee the electoral bonds scheme. During the proceedings of the apex court in the matter relating to the legality of the scheme, the public at large were aghast at the way the SBI tried to keep back vital information about donors and donees, not only from the public but also from the apex court itself, till the court forced the bank to disclose the same forthwith.

There were doubts expressed by many on whether the SBI had made a complete disclosure of the details of bond givers and bond beneficiaries. 

A recent investigative report published in a news magazine ( brought to light that such doubts are justified to some extent. One NBFC gifted Rs 1.3 billion to BJP, whereas the figure disclosed by the SBI was only Rs 0.6 billion, less than half of the total donation. What is far more worrisome is that such a huge donation evidently resulted in the donor getting an inexplicable regulatory reprieve from the RBI, an instance of outright regulatory compromise which could attract the penal provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. If what has been indicated in the reported analysis is factually correct, it implies an outright breach of the public trust both by the SBI and the RBI. The RBI as the country’s central bank and as the custodian of its finances, was never known to be involved in the past in such connivance with the political executive. It demonstrates the extent of rot that has seeped into the governance system.

From the foregoing discussion, it is abundantly evident that the BJP-led NDA government was complicit in the way the electoral bonds scheme was designed and operated to its advantage through quid pro quos, how there was deployment of Central investigating/ enforcement agencies/ regulatory institutions in intimidating private companies and extorting donations from them and how, in several cases, the concerned authorities functioning under the direct oversight of the NDA government compromised the public interest and even the national interest. Apart from tainting the electoral process, the scheme thus irreparably compromised the public interest.

Despite the apex court’s landmark directions, I understand that the BJP and a few other political parties are still sitting cosily on thousands of crores of rupees of unutilised bond money lying with them and it is necessary to ensure that not a single rupee of such tainted money gets spent on elections.

Unfortunately, there are very few institutions in India, including the Election Commission of India (ECI), that have remained independent of the predatory reach of the political executive and, as a concerned citizen, I find no other alternative than to seek your intervention to put an instant stop to this debilitating political malaise.

Against the above background, I seek you directions on the following:

  1. Order the ECI to freeze all unspent electoral bonds money lying with the BJP and other political parties so that it may not find its way into electioneering to upset the level playing ground among political parties in the ensuing elections
  2. Institute a judicial commission with senior sitting judges of the Supreme Court to enquire into the way the electoral bonds scheme had been misused on several fronts including possible deployment of Central investigating/ enforcement agencies for intimidating private businesses and extorting donations, extending undue regulatory protection to errant companies, endangering human lives and hurting the public interest. The judicial commission may, if necessary, recommend measures to reverse undue benefits given to private businesses, to suggest penal action against senior public functionaries, political parties, and others for acts of malfeasance associated with the electoral bonds scheme; the desirability of banning corporate donations altogether, in view of their toxic impact on our democracy
  3. Order all Central investigating/ enforcement agencies to function under the oversight of that judicial commission, pending such an enquiry, so as to prevent their mis-deployment by the political executive
  4. Considering that the ECI’s independence itself stands compromised, direct the ECI to function under the direct oversight of your office so that it may fulfill its mandate under Article 324 to conduct elections in a free and fair manner

Respected Rashtrapati ji, considering that most institutions in India have been coerced into submission, and have become practically dysfunctional, politically pliable, as a concerned senior citizen, I feel that it is imperative that your office intervenes urgently and decisively at this crucial hour, if necessary, in consultation with the apex court, to protect the democratic and human rights values of our Constitution.  


E A S Sarma

Former Secretary to the Government of India


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