New Delhi: As many as 8,167 willful defaulters owe banks Rs 76,685 crore and 1,724 FIRs (first information report) have been filed against them last year, union finance minister Arun Jaitley told Rajya Sabha yesterday.
Replying to a question on poor conviction rate of willful defaulters by Congress leader Digvijay Singh, Jaitley said that a Joint parliamentary committee (JPC) is presently looking into a Bill relating to debt recovery, which aims at empowering banks to take steps that are more effective in dealing with default situations.
Congress leader Anand Sharma too raised the matter, pointing out that many positions in the debt recovery tribunals are lying vacant.
Admitting that Sharma was “perfectly right that the Debt Recovery Tribunals have to be made more effective”, Jaitley said the government has proposed increasing the number of these tribunals in the Bill now with the JPC. He also said that several notifications regarding filling up of vacant positions are in the pipeline.
When Digvijay Singh pressed that Jaitley has not answered the reasons for poor conviction rate of 1.14%, Jaitley said the convictions depended on the kind of evidence that investigation agencies are able to produce.
He said that ‘willful defaults’ pertained to those cases where someone who has the capacity to pay and does not do so, or where money has been siphoned for a purpose which is not originally intended for.
The finance minister said many of the defaults pertain to sectors like steel, infrastructure and power and that the government has worked in the last one and a half years to address problems of these sectors. He said several other measures have been taken to help banks in such situations and added that the insolvency law has also been recently passed.