Bad loans given by public and private sector banks have risen to nearly Rs 10 lakh crore; this non-performing assets (NPA) burden was already Rs 6.97 lakh crore in December last. It turns out that one-fourth of these toxic assets, around Rs 175,000 crore, is due to just 12 corporate defaulters owing over Rs 5,000 crores each. The RBI is still coy about revealing their mes, even though commercial banks are quiet prompt in publicly ming and shaming small defaulters. But there is a change in public mood, seeing the brazen ways of an absconding defaulter like Vijay Mallya. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) in its chargesheet has accused Mallya of illegally transferring a large part of that bank depositors’ money abroad. Comfortably ensconced in London now, the former liquor baron who wilfully defaulted on nearly Rs 9,000 crore loans owed to various banks, recently got bail in a court there after pleading he had ‘enough evidence’ to plead his case — and had the gall to taunt Indian authorities by saying, “You can keep dreaming about a billion pounds”. No wonder then that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has been asking whether big defaulters had any crimil intent behind defaulting their loans. The RBI is learnt to be filising the list of big defaulters so that their assets may be taken over under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 within 180 days. This is expected to somewhat mitigate the NPA crisis in state-run banks — some of which, including the State Bank group, are being forced to consolidate. The mollycoddling of big defaulters with the argument that it will hurt business sentiment is no longer valid or acceptable. If they are allowed to get away with irresponsible if not crimil intent, it is a disservice by the RBI and Central government to crores of small depositors who keep their hard earned money in banks.