The process of recovering money for small depositors following bank loan write-offs is a layered and time-consuming process, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The minister made the statement in response to a question by Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule on the process of recovering money as she referred to the case of the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank in which depositors have moved the Delhi High Court for the restrictions imposed on their withdrawals.

The PMC Bank is accused of not reporting all of its non-performing assets, or bad loans, after providing funds to a number of companies. The scam, which is said to be worth Rs 4,355 crore, had caused a liquidity crisis in 2019.

In September 2019, the Reserve Bank of India had imposed curbs on the bank, saying that depositors would not be allowed to withdraw more than Rs 1,000 from the bank for six months. The withdrawal limit was raised to Rs 25,000, and then to Rs 40,000 in October 2019.

“The processes are very layered, and it does take a long time,” Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha on Monday. “There are times when there are even sets of defaulters. Even if the assets of these defaulters are attached, it requires a very complicated process through the court.”

Referring to the PMC bank scam, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that if the Centre requests the courts to release a portion of assets attached by the agencies, they would would not allow it.

“By the time justice is sought to be delivered many of the small depositors are put to extreme difficulty,” the finance minister added. “There is definitely a need to look at how we can simplify the process without denying justice.”

On December 13, Sitharaman had informed the Rajya Sabha that banks have written off bad loans amounting to Rs 10,09,511 crore during the last five financial years and the process of recovering dues from the borrowers is still underway, reported PTI.