On 26 September 2013, Pradeep Gupta, the private secretary of the president of India sent an email to himself, from his official account to his personal one. The email contained no text in the body, but there was a copy of a passport attached. The passport belonged to Suchismita Mukherjee, the then 25-year-old-granddaughter of the president. On the same day, Gupta forwarded this email to Alok Chauhan, a corporate affairs executive at Essar Services India Limited (ESIL), one of the companies under the Essar group—an Indian conglomerate that has investments in sectors such as steel, infrastructure and energy.
In an earlier email exchange that had taken place in the same month, the subject of which read, “Suchismita Mukherjee,” top executives of the Essar group such as Adil Malia, the group president for Human Resources (HR) and Sunil Bajaj, the director of ESIL’s corporate relations group, were discussing which position they ought to hire Mukherjee for. The email indicated that she would be hired at Essar’s London office and the exchange revolved around whether they should employ her as an intern or for a full-time job in one of Essar’s companies.
In their mails to Lynne Sampson, an HR manager with Essar Oil in London, Bajaj and Malia articulated a number of queries around Mukherjee’s prospective employment. They wanted to know from Sampson, the details of how much money Mukherjee would make if she were to be hired as an intern as opposed to a permanent employee, among other things.
Sampson wrote to Malia on 19 September asking if he had received any response regarding her suggestion “to follow up the internship route initially and then convert to a permanent role afterwards?” She also asked in the email, “Do you want me to do anything to move it along?”