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The Supreme Court of India came down heavily on the central government, expressing displeasure over the lack of a clear law or regulations when it came to cryptocurrencies.
The Apex court also noted a lack of an expert agency to probe criminal cases involving cryptocurrencies.
Court Questions Government
The Supreme Court stated that it was unfortunate that the central government had not brought in any type of legislation to regulate cryptocurrencies. The court also asked the central government to clarify whether it intended to set up a federal agency to investigate criminal cases that involve crypto. It also stressed the importance of setting up an agency capable of comprehending and thoroughly investigating cases involving crypto at a national level, adding that it is in the country’s interests to have such an agency in place.
The bench, comprising of Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Surya Kant, also questioned the quality of investigations carried out by the police, stating they may not possess the necessary expertise to handle such cases but are still being promoted to higher ranks and positions. The bench remarked,
“You still don’t have any law, unfortunately. Do you have an agency at the national level to understand these cases and investigate them properly? We want you to identify a national specialized agency in the national interest. What kind of a quality investigation can you expect when you have a police constable who gets promoted to an assistant sub-inspector or a sub-inspector to handle such cases?”
Innocent Investors Suffering
The court urged the government to devise a legal regime to handle cases involving cryptocurrencies at the earliest. The bench expressed anguish that innocent investors were being duped while the government had no capable agency present at the national level to investigate the complex nature of crypto transactions. The bench remarked to the additional solicitor general, Vikramjit Bannerjee, stating,
“There has to be some legislative mechanism. You can tell us that it is for you to decide whether or not you want it. But so long you don’t have a mechanism, how do you investigate people and keep them behind bars? It’s, after all, the country’s money that is being siphoned off. It’s like Hawala. Who has the responsibility to stop it? We thought you would yourself come forward and provide some solution.”
The Case In Question
The bench made the remarks while hearing a case involving a Delhi resident facing charges of crypto fraud in multiple cases, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand. The accused individual, Ganesh Shivkumar Sagar, has filed several petitions seeking bail and asking that all cases against him be transferred to a central agency for further investigation.
In another incident, the CBI apprehended a Delhi resident who posed as a Canadian government official, tricking his victims into transferring their digital assets to crypto wallets that were then misappropriated with the help of multiple accomplices. A subsequent search operation saw the agency recover over 1 crore in cash from the prime accused’s premises located in Delhi.
According to the first information report (FIR) filed by the CBI, the main accused, along with an accomplice, pretended to be Canadian government officials. The accused then tricked an individual based in Quebec, coercing them into depositing over 7000 CAD, equivalent to around Rs. 4.30 lakh, into a crypto wallet.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.