List companies with loan dues of over Rs 500 cr: SC to govt

New Delhi : Taking note of rising bad loans, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to provide a list of corporate entities with more than Rs 500 crore in outstanding loans.

The apex court also sought “empiricial data” on recovery cases pending for the last 10 years at the debt recovery tribunals (DRTs) and their appellate bodies.

A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud rued the lack of infrastructure and staff at DRTs and debt recovery appellate tribunals (DRATs), which decide recovery cases.

It said legislative changes on fast disposal would not yield results unless infrastructure was “commensurate” with the work load.

The court also wanted to know whether any scientific study had been conducted on infrastructure and “what steps the Union government intends to adopt to enhance the infrastructure of debt recovery tribunals and the appellate tribunals”.

It asked whether the government had any specific plan to upgrade infrastructure to achieve the time frames indicated in a recently amended law.

The bench also referred to an incident in which the chairperson of the DRAT, Allahabad, wrote to the chief justice of India that he was resigning for want of “infrastructure and facilities”.

The Centre, in its recent affidavit, had apprised the court that more than 70,000 cases involving about Rs 5 lakh crore were pending before DRTs, many for more than 10 years.
The bench noted that though the Act provides for disposal of recovery applications within 180 days, cases have remained pending for years together.

“The efficacy of parliamentary legislation will depend in a large measure on the efficiency with which the tribunals discharge their duties,” it said.

Rs 40k cr written off?
The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed in 2003 by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation about loans advanced by state-owned HUDCO to some companies.

The petitioners had said about Rs 40,000 crore of corporate debt had been written off in 2015 alone. The bench clarified that it would deal with the issue of loan defaults later.