Indian High Court Rules Cryptocurrency Dealings Legal Under Indian Law

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The Orissa High Court in India has clarified that cryptocurrency dealings are not illegal under Indian law, in a landmark ruling related to a fraud case involving a Ponzi scheme.

Orisa, India: The Orissa High Court in India has ruled that cryptocurrency dealings are not illegal under Indian law. 

This decision came 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.

“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,” Justice Mishra stated. He added, “Mere dealing in cryptocurrency cannot be treated as illegal in any manner. Hence, it cannot be treated as an offense under the OPID Act.”

The case involved accusations against individuals who allegedly defrauded people through a fictitious cryptocurrency company promoting a digital currency called Yes World Token. They enticed people to invest by creating trust wallets and promising substantial returns. 

This scheme required participants to recruit additional members, promising bonuses or interest payments that increased with the number of new recruits, following multi-level marketing principles and raising concerns about its legality and investor protection.

Justice Mishra noted that there was no evidence the accused had dishonestly induced anyone 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 offense under section 420 does not appear, prima facie, to be made out,” the judge concluded, adding, “There is no evidence that any documents, records, etc. were forged, manipulated, or manufactured so as to attract the offenses under section 467/468/471 of IPC.”

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