India’s cryptocurrency landscape is shrouded in uncertainty as the country’s highest court rejects a pivotal petition urging the government to establish comprehensive guidelines for the trading and mining of cryptocurrencies. The plea, filed by Manu Prashant Wig, a director at Blue Fox Motion Picture Limited, specifically sought regulatory frameworks and prosecution directives related to digital assets.
The Supreme Court acknowledged the petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, but it cast doubt on its true intention, suggesting a motive to secure bail for Wig, who is currently in judicial custody. The court emphasized, “We are unable to subscribe to this course of action,” underscoring that Article 32 is intended for individuals to directly approach the highest court for the protection of fundamental rights.
Wig, associated with Tokenz Limited, a centralized cryptocurrency exchange, stands accused of luring individuals into investing in a fraudulent scheme. The case, brought by the Economic Offense Wing of Delhi Police, involves over 130 victims who claim to have fallen prey to the deception. Earlier this year, Wig’s wife obtained anticipatory bail as the investigation team sought to question her in connection to the case.
The decision of the Supreme Court has dealt a severe blow to the aspirations of countless crypto investors who had placed their hopes on the nation’s final legal recourse. The digital asset industry in India is grappling with turmoil, exacerbated by the government’s introduction of stringent taxes, widely perceived by the industry as a “shadow ban.”
Local crypto exchanges faced severe challenges as payment processors severed ties and the government initiated enforcement actions against at least 10 exchanges, pushing them to the brink of survival. This is not the first time the Indian Supreme Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation [PIL] seeking regulatory frameworks and guidelines for cryptocurrency trading.
India: From Hopes to Hurdles
On November 11, the bench, led by Chief Justice of India [CJI] Chandrachud, deemed the petitioner’s requests more suitable for legislative consideration than a matter for the judiciary. Despite reassurances from various ministries at the recently concluded G20 leaders’ summit that “India’s stance on crypto will be decided in the coming months,” the denial of the recent petition intensifies the industry’s concerns regarding regulatory transparency.
In the absence of an imminent regulatory framework, the cryptocurrency community in India is teetering on the edge, grappling with legal challenges and uncertainties that have a profound impact on its development and stability.