The number of wilful defaulters has risen 60 per cent in the five years up to FY19, but over ₹7,600 crore has been recovered from these defaulters, the government said on Monday.

In a written answer to a question in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the total number of wilful defaulters stood at 8,582 at the end of FY19, against 5,349 at the end of FY15.

Responding to a set of questions, Sitharaman and Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Singh Thakur, defined a wilful defaulter as one who has the resources to repay the loan, but does not do so intentionally, and deploys the money for purposes other than intended.

Sitharaman informed the Lower House that public sector banks (PSBs), till March 31, 2019, had filed suits for recovery in 8,121 cases.

Measures taken

In cases involving secured assets, action has been initiated in 6,251 cases under the provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002. Further, in line with RBI instructions, FIRs have been registered in 2,915 cases.

Wilful defaulters are not sanctioned additional facilities by banks or financial institutions, and their entities are debarred from floating new ventures for five years. SEBI has debarred wilful defaulters and companies with wilful defaulters, from accessing capital markets to raise funds, the ministers said.

Sitharaman added that as a result of the government’s ‘4Rs’ strategy of Recognition, Resolution, Recapitalisation and Reforms, gross NPAs of PSBs, per RBI data on global operations, rose to ₹8.95-lakh crore at the end of March 2018, from ₹2.79-lakh crore at the end of March 2015. This declined to ₹8.06-lakh crore at the end of March 2019.

PSBs managed to recover about ₹3.59-lakh crore over four fiscal years (FY16 to FY19), of which ₹1.23-lakh crore was recovered last fiscal.

Black money

The Income-Tax Department has issued notices, under the Black Money Act, in over 380 cases involving undisclosed foreign assets and income valued at over ₹12,260 crore. Further, prosecution has been launched in 68 cases. The tax men also searched 983 groups and made seizures worth ₹1,584 crore in FY19. In FY18, 582 groups were searched and nearly ₹1,000 crore worth of seizures were made.

Responding to another query, the Minister said the number of taxpayers under direct taxes rose to 8.44 crore for assessment year (AY) 2018-19 against 7.42 crore for AY2017-18.

Total net direct tax collection rose to ₹11.37-lakh crore in FY19, against ₹10.02-lakh crore the previous fiscal.

PSBs recovered about ₹3.59-lakh crore from FY16 to FY19; of this, ₹1.23-lakh crore was recovered in FY19 alone