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Reveal big defaulters’ instead of going behind small; will impact economy: SC warns banks

The Supreme Court, while studying the list of defaulters of loans over Rs. 500 crore, said that the total outstanding amount which runs into lakhs of crores of rupees should be revealed if the Reserve Bank of India wants to keep the names of the defaulters under the wraps.

Supreme Court-AVPursuant to an earlier order, RBI handed over a list of defaulters of loans and the amounts standing against them. RBI has claimed confidentiality about the data handed over to the bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur.

The Chief Justice said that even if the names of the defaulters are not disclosed, the huge aggregate figure can at least be disclosed.

Noting bad loans or non-performing assets (NPAs) to be a substantial case, a bench comprising of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice R Banumath said that it will examine if the total amount of defaulting loans running into crores of rupees can be disclosed.

“This information does make out a case. This is quite a substantial amount which is involved,” the bench said.

The apex also expressed its concern over the stark difference between habitual loan defaulters who are mainly business tycoons and farmers who struggle for even small loans.

“People default after taking loans to run their empires and declare insolvency, while farmers are being driven to suicide for small loans,” the apex court said.

The next hearing in the case is on April 26.

The court’s attention to big defaulters was drawn by advocate Prashant Bhushan, who had filed a petition more than a decade ago highlighting the scam in Housing and Urban Development Corporation (Hudco) when the BJP-led NDA was in power.

He said a similar approach continued as bad debts of public sector banks running into thousands of crores were written off every now and then.

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