There are 8,167 wilful defaulters who owe banks an amount of Rs 76,685 crore and 1,724 FIRs have already been filed in 2015-16, government said on Tuesday.
The details were provided by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha during Question Hour, where he also said that a Joint Committee of Parliament is presently looking into a Bill relating to debt recovery which aims at empowering banks to take more effective steps in dealing with default situations.
Congress leader Anand Sharma raised the matter relating to many positions in the Debt Recovery Tribunals being vacant.
Jaitley said Sharma was “perfectly right that the Debt Recovery Tribunals have to be made more effective.”
He said in the Debt Recovery Bill that the Committee was examining, the government has proposed increasing the number of these tribunals. He also said that several notifications regarding filling up of vacant positions are in the pipeline.
Congress member Digvijay Singh expressed concern over the poor conviction rate in such matters which, as per the details provided by the Finance Minister, was just 1.14 per cent during 2015-16.
To this, Jaitley said the convictions depended on the kind of evidence that investigation agencies are able to produce.
He said that ‘wilful 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 Minister said many defaults that banks have been seen pertain to sectors like steel, infrastructure and power and 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.