Why still no law on crypto, Supreme Court asks Union government
The apex court also noted the lack of an expert agency to probe such matters.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday directed the Union government to bring on record whether it intends to set up a federal agency to investigate criminal cases involving cryptocurrencies, terming it “unfortunate” that the Centre still does not have a law to regulate digital currencies, nor does it have an expert agency in place to probe such matters.
“You still don’t have any law unfortunately. Do you have an agency at the national level to understand these cases and investigate properly? We want you to identify a national specialised 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?” a bench of justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta asked.
Imploring the Centre to have a legal regime in place to handle the cases involving cryptocurrencies, the bench ruled that several innocent investors in the country are getting duped but there is no agency at the national level that can crack the code in such cases involving complex nature of transactions. “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, which is being siphoned off. It’s like hawala. Who has the responsibility to stop it? We thought you will yourself come forward and provide some solution,” the bench told additional solicitor general Vikramjit Banerjee, who represented the Centre.
The court was hearing petitions filed by Ganesh Shivkumar Sagar (47), a resident of Delhi, booked in connection with cryptocurrency fraud cases in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Jharkhand. In one of his petitions, he asked for bail while in another, he pleaded that all the cases against him could be entrusted to a central agency for investigation.
With the law officer present before it, both the judges on the bench expressed their bewilderment that the Centre is yet to come up with a law on cryptocurrencies despite repeatedly making submissions before the courts that a legislation was being mulled over.