An analysis of the SC Decision in RBI Case
The Reserve Bank of India ('RBI') vide Circular - Prohibition on dealing in Virtual Currencies ('VCs') dated April 6, 2018 ('RBI Circular') ...
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Central government to make its stand clear on whether bitcoin is illegal. The case pertains to the GainBitcoin scam involving around 80,000 bitcoins.
The scam estimate which was INR 2,000 crore initially was revised to INR 20,000 crores after an increase in the bitcoin value. The Court was hearing a petition filed by one of the accused in the GainBitcoin scam - Ajay Bhardwaj seeking quashing of the case against him. [Ajay Bhardwaj v. Union of India].
A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati who was representing the Central government to throw light on this issue.
According to a report on LiveLaw, Justice Surya Kant orally remarked, "We would like you, as the Union of India, to place on record the regime as to bitcoin and cryptocurrency? Is it still an offence?"
"Is it illegal or not. You have to make your stand clear," said Justice Surya Kant.
"We will do that. Direct Marketing guidelines are there, which they have challenged. This scam involves 80,000 bitcoins which have a value of 20,000 crore! FIRs are registered all across the country! The victims are running into thousands and thousands of people whose money has been taken! They are trying to create this ruse of guidelines and regime!", urged the ASG according to Live Law.
Ajay along with mastermind and brother Amit Bhardwaj are accused of running a multi-level marketing scheme promising huge returns to investors.
Advocate Shoeb Alam, representing a complainant, said that he was attacked the same was caught on CCTV cameras.
"Replies have agreed that bitcoins are currencies. My money has been taken away. FIR was in 2018. This person after bail had tried to attack me and its on CCTV cameras," Alam said.
The Court then proceeded to direct the accused to cooperate with the probe. Pertinently, the Court granted the accused interim protection from arrest.
"The IO shall file a status report showing the cooperation meted out by the petitioner accused. List this after 4 weeks. the interim order restraining arrest of the accused will continue till the next date of hearing. interim protection will continue," the Court said.
Senior Advocate PC Sen represented the petitioner-accused. The matter is now posted for 28 March 2022.
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