Taking note of rising bad loans, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to give the list of “corporate entities” against whom outstanding loans were in excess of Rs 500 crore, besides the “empiricial data” on recovery cases pending for last ten years in debt recovery tribunals (DRTs) and their appellate bodies.
A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud rued the lack of infrastructure and manpower at DRTs and debt recovery appellate tribunals (DRATs), which decide recovery cases and said the legislative changes on fast disposal of such matters will not yield results unless infrastructure is not “commensurate” with the burden of work.
The bench asked the Centre to file an affidavit dealing with various issues and sought “empirical data on the pendency of cases for more than ten years and the list of corporate entities where the amount outstanding is in excess of Rs 500 crore”.
The court asked “whether the timelines set down in the amended legislation are capable of being achieved with the existing infrastructure including judicial personnel and staffing pattern of the debt recovery tribunals and debt recovery appellate tribunals”.
The court also wanted to know whether any scientific study has been conducted on the availability of infrastructure and “what steps the Union government intends to adopt to enhance the infrastructure of debt recovery tribunals and the appellate tribunals in terms of physical infrastructure, judicial manpower and non-judicial personnel required for the efficacious functioning of the tribunals”.
It has asked as to whether there was any specific plan of action including time schedules within which the existing infrastructure would be upgraded so as to achieve the time frame for disposal indicated in the amended legislation.
In the judgement, the bench also referred to an incident in which the chairperson of the DRAT, Allahabad wrote to the CJI saying he was constrained to tender his resignation from the post due to absence of “infrastructure and facilities”.