Landmark Ruling: Crypto Dealings Not Illegal in India, Says High Court
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Landmark Ruling: Crypto Dealings Not Illegal in India, Says High Court

The Orissa High Court in India ruled that crypto dealings are not illegal in India according to the Indian law. 

This decision arose from a case involving individuals accused of fraud through a Ponzi scheme. 

Justice Sasikanta Mishra clarified that cryptocurrency is not considered money under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act or a deposit under the Odisha Protection of Interests of Depositors Act, thus deeming mere cryptocurrency dealings not offenses under these laws.

Dealing in Crypto ‘Cannot Be Treated as Illegal in Any Manner’

The Orissa High Court in India has issued a significant ruling clarifying the legal status of cryptocurrency dealings under Indian law. 

This landmark decision emerged from a case involving two individuals accused of defrauding people through a Ponzi or multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.

The primary legal question was whether these activities constituted offenses under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act and the Odisha Protection of Interests of Depositors Act (OPID). 

Justice Sasikanta Mishra, presiding over the single-judge bench, ruled: “Cryptocurrency is not money within the meaning of Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act and the investment made by the general public in cryptocurrency cannot partake the nature of deposit within the meaning of OPID Act.” 

The judge added:

“Mere dealing in crypto currency cannot be treated as illegal in any manner. Hence, it cannot be treated as an offence under the OPID Act.”

The accused in this case were allegedly operating under the guise of a fictitious cryptocurrency company, enticing people to invest in a digital currency called Yes World Token. 

They purportedly lured private individuals into investing by creating trust wallets and promising substantial returns. 

This investment approach required participants to recruit additional members, who would then be promised bonuses or interest payments that increased with the number of new recruits.

The scheme appeared to follow multi-level marketing principles, raising concerns about its legality and investor protection.

Justice Mishra noted the absence of evidence indicating that the accused had dishonestly induced any person to deliver property to them. 

He emphasized that the investment method did not support allegations of cheating, as the invested amounts remained secure in the investors’ trust wallets. 

“Thus, the offence under section 420 does not appear, prima facie, to be made out,” the judge concluded, elaborating:

There is no evidence that any documents, records etc. were forged, manipulated, manufactured etc. so as to attract the offences under section 467/468/471 of IPC.

What do you think about this ruling? Let us know in the comments section below.

Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions. Crypto is not a legal tender and is subject to market risks. Readers are advised to seek expert advice and read offer document(s) along with related important literature on the subject carefully before making any kind of investment whatsoever. Crypto market predictions are speculative and any investment made shall be at the sole cost and risk of the readers.