Even as refunds disbursed by the income tax department (ITD) has grown over the years, the number of suspicious refund claims have also risen over the last three years, minister of state for finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said in a written reply in Parliament. The ITD selected 20,874 cases in the current fiscal to examine suspicious refund claims compared with 11,059 and 9,857 in the previous two fiscals. The income tax refunds disbursed till February 2 stood at Rs 1.43 lakh crore compared with Rs 1.52 lakh core in FY18 and Rs 1.63 lakh crore in FY17. Also Read:\u00a0 I-T assessment error caused loss of Rs 6,000 crore in real estate taxes, reveals CAG report \u201cScrutiny assessments have been initiated against taxpayers claiming high refunds inconsistent with the pattern of income and investments. Wherever after scrutiny the claim of refund was found to be inadmissible, the same was denied and consequential action of penalty and prosecution was taken based on the merits of the case,\u201d Shukla said in his reply in Parliament. Till January 15, the finance ministry said over 3 lakh including 36,616 cases of refunds were pending for scrutiny. Additionally, a total of 16,21,848 claims of refund (including non-scrutiny cases) are pending for issue as on January 31, 2019. \u201cSince only about 0.5% of the returns is selected for scrutiny, refunds are issued expeditiously at the time of processing itself for the bulk of the taxpayers. With regard to the pending scrutiny cases, the assessing officers have already been advised in the Central Action Plan for 2018-19 to expedite assessment in such cases,\u201d the minister said.