bitcoins: SC seeks clarity from govt on legal status of Bitcoin

Synopsis

The issue cropped up in a criminal case where the accused is facing charges of defrauding people in a crypto-currency scam.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought clarity from the government on the legal status of Bitcoin in the country, days after the finance minister taxed crypto trading transactions at 30 per cent.

The issue cropped up in a criminal case where the accused is facing charges of defrauding people in a crypto-currency scam.

A bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud granted him interim protection from arrest till the next hearing but sought more clarity on the legal status of crypto currency.
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Justice Surya Kant told ASG Aishwarya Bhatti, who was appearing in the case “You must clarify the legal position (on bitcoins).” The ASG said that she would.

The bench, however, directed the accused to meet the investigating officer and cooperate in the investigation. The IO in turn was directed to submit a fresh status report on the case in four weeks.

The case involves Ajay Bhardwaj, the brother of key accused Amit Bhardwaj, who has since died of a cardiac arrest while on bail granted by the top court.

ASG Bhatti said that Ajay Bhardwaj was not cooperating in the investigation.

This case involves 87000 bitcoins and multiple notices have been issued to the accused, she said. This is the first such scam from India. The ED has revised the initial scam estimates from 2000 cr to Rs 20000 cr.

The brothers allegedly collected funds from investors in lieu of hefty profits on bitcoins. They have denied the charges.

Amit Bhardwaj was arrested by Pune police in March 2018 and was released on bail by the top court on April 3, 2019. Now the investigation is confined to the other brothers.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that RBI would designate a new digital currency in the budget. A crypto currency bill is also being drafted to regulate trading in cryptocurrency.

The finance secretary clarified a day later that crypto currency will never be legal tender.

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Updated: 02/25/2022 — 23:00