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SC backs RBI, bars courts from taking up pleas related to cryptocurrency

M J Antony/New Delhi 18 May 18 | 02:17 AM

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Thursday acceded to the request of the Reserve Bank of India and stayed all cases in high courts involving bitcoin. The court posted the hearing for July 20.  

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No court shall accept petitions on the subject of cryptocurrency. The court asked the Attorney General to assist the court in this matter.

RBI submitted before a bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that petitions have been filed in the Delhi and Calcutta high courts and they are “mushrooming" in various courts. It wanted all of them to be transferred and consolidated in the Supreme Court so that there could be one comprehensive judgment on the validity of virtual currency.  

RBI counsel Shyam Divan said that there are some 1,500 virtual currencies in circulation and more are “popping up".  

He pointed out that RBI had issued a circular on April 6 prohibiting the banks from dealing in cryptocurrency.

Several petitioners have moved the Supreme Court, some of them supporting the RBI ban, some challenging the ban and others seeking regulation of the virtual currency. 

They argued that though bitcoin has not been expressly prohibited, RBI is telling the banks not to deal in it. 

The government has set up a committee to look into the status of bitcoin and its report is expected within a few months. 

Some petitioners and industries who deal in bitcoin wanted to explain their stand on the issue to the committee so that the currency can be regulated. 

The court allowed them to approach the government.

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