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Atul Patankar

Banks shy away from revealing big defaulters' names

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Atul Patankar

As reported by C Unnikrishnan at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 21 September 2009


MUMBAI: Although a Union finance minister had once described the rising non- performing assets (NPA) of nationalised banks as a loot, public sector banks are unwilling to divulge the names of those who have defaulted on huge loans. None of the 25 public sector banks who were asked to name big defaulters under the Right to Information did so. Sixteen of these banks merely gave figures of the outstandings while nine refused to even reply. According to information provided under RTI, the banks have written off over Rs 15,000 crore in the period 2003-2008.


The banks reasoned that furnishing the names is not in public interest and is an invasion into the privacy of borrowers.


The RTI application was filed by Borivili resident Richie Shoaib Sequeira on the directions of the Bombay high court. On Thursday, chief justice Swatanter Kumar and Ajay Khanwilkar, while hearing his PIL, directed that notices be issued to Union of India, RBI and other banks. The court also directed Sequeira to make the state crime investigation department a party to the PIL. The matter will come up for hearing on October 15.


At the last hearing, the HC had asked Sequeira to invoke RTI or any other law to gather details from the banks. Sequeira had filed a PIL, saying there has been no strict vigil by the finance ministry and RBI while writing off loans by the banks and the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) had failed to recover the debts. The RBI, finance ministry, law ministry and DRT have said that in their replies they have no records of the write-offs and one-time settlements between the borrowers and banks.


The PIL also said that no rules have been framed by the finance ministry while writing off loans by the banks, which smacks of corruption. Some of the banks in their replies have said that the write-off is done in accordance with the guidelines framed by the board of directors. During a debate in the Lok Sabha in 2002, the then finance minister Jaswant Singh had described the NPA menace as a loot.


The banks which refused to disclose details about the defaulters include SBI its associates, Union Bank, Bank of Baroda, Central Bank of India, Dena Bank, Andhra Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Syndicate Bank and Indian Overseas Bank. Banks like Corporation Bank, UCO Bank, BoI and Allahabad Bank refused to reply to the RTI questions.


The banks mostly approach the DRT, attach assets under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act or go in for a one-time settlement to recover whatever dues they can. The DRT, set up for expeditious adjudication and recovery of debts owed to banks and financial institutions, recovered just 32% of the total outstanding amount in the period 2001-07.


In the case of State Bank of Travancore, in the period 2003-2008, of the Rs 10,162 crore claimed by the bank, it has recovered only 15%. Another 50% of the claims is yet to be decided. In the one-time settlement, the bank has forgone another Rs 800 crore.


Dena Bank has managed to recover only Rs 725 crore of the Rs 151,85 crore for the period 2003-2008. And the bank has foregone another Rs 950 crore as part of one-time settlement in the period 2006-2008. In the case of Oriental Bank of Commerce, the bank has foregone Rs 1353.5 crore in the last four years. Union Bank of India has recovered only Rs 3,261.5 crore of the Rs 7,623 crore in the period 2006-08.


Source: Banks shy away from revealing big defaulters' names - Mumbai - City - NEWS - The Times of India

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what is the latest position of PIL and the number if you can give. I am aware of similar kind of matter in Gujarat High court. Thanks.Shailesh Mehta.(Posting of mail ids is against RTI India - Forum Rules - hence deleted)

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