The recommendation of the Lok Sabha ethics committee to expel Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra from Parliament is against public interest, a group of 123 eminent citizens said in a statement on Wednesday.

Moitra has been accused by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey and advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, reportedly her estranged partner, of taking bribes from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions in Parliament.

“The questions were also often focused on the Adani Group, another business conglomerate, Hiranandani Group, was bidding for business against,” the BJP MP claimed.

The Lok Sabha ethics panel, which investigated the allegations, made the recommendation in its draft report adopted on November 8. The committee alleged that her actions are “highly objectionable, unethical, heinous and criminal”. The report was adopted with six panel members supporting it and four submitting dissent notes.

The signatories of Wednesday’s statement in support of Moitra include social activist Abha Bhaiya, retired civil servants EAS Sarma, Anita Agnihotri and Ashok Vajpayee, journalists P Sainath and Pamela Philipose along with professors Raghavan Rangarajan, Surinder Kumar and Jagmohan Singh.

In its statement, the group said that Moitra could be expelled based on allegations that are yet to be “subjected to strict Parliamentary and judicial scrutiny” in consonance with the principles of natural justice.

“We feel that the issues arising in the case of Ms Moitra cannot be viewed narrowly as being an inter-corporate conflict of interest,” it said. “They are more in the nature of issues arising in the case of one corporate entity and the people of India. Unless those issues are examined as outlined below in their entirety, we feel that the Parliament will be doing a grave injustice to itself and also to Ms Moitra.”

The group asked why the Union government had not formed a Joint Parliamentary Committee as sought by several political parties over reports about a corporate entity failing to follow laws.

The signatories were referring to allegations raised by American investment firm Hindenburg Research in January that the Adani Group was pulling off the “largest con in corporate history”. Hindenburg claimed that the conglomerate has been involved in accounting fraud, improper use of tax havens and money laundering. The conglomerate has denied the allegations.

In the statement, the signatories on Wednesday said that instead of looking into the veracity of the allegations, the government questioned those who raised concerns, intimidated them and gagged dissent.

The group also noted that while the Companies Act prohibited corporate donations to political parties, successive governments diluted the law to allow firms to fund elections.

It said that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government “went far beyond” this by allowing donations from foreign sources. The statement said that the government also introduced electoral bonds that allow political parties to receive donations from anonymous individuals and corporate bodies, and in turn has deprived citizens of their “right to know” under Article 19 of the Constitution.

“This has made it easy for private companies to fund the political parties and, in turn, influence them to grant them quid pro quos in terms of dilution of environmental and other laws and compromising institutions to suit their interests,” the statement read.

The group alleged that in the case of the Adani Group, the Modi government’s response shows a nexus between “the political executive and big businesses and its deleterious implications for the public interest”.

The signatories said that Moitra highlighted important matters in Parliament and her exit will “certainly create a void in the continuing discourse on such issues”.

They added, “The expulsion of a member of any legislature is a serious matter which has wider implications for our democracy. It calls for a careful examination and circumspection on the part of the Parliament and the other legislative bodies before such a far reaching decision is taken.”

The Hiranandani Group had initially dismissed the allegations raised by Dubey and Dehadrai as having “no merit”. However, on October 19, Hiranandani, the chief executive officer of the real estate company, submitted an affidavit accusing Moitra of spreading unverified information about Gautam Adani.

Moitra had clarified in an interview in October that she gave Hiranandani access to her online Lok Sabha account but denied taking any bribes from him. She had claimed that MPs do not type their own questions and that the queries can only be submitted upon entering a one-time password, which is delivered to the phone number of the legislators.