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Supreme Court is not district court where you can play with orders: SC to crypto scam accused

The bench asked the counsel to inform his client that he has to share the details with the ED and then it will hear him.

Published: 18th April 2022 07:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2022 07:48 PM   |  A+A-

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday took serious note of the non-compliance of its earlier order by a crypto-currency scam accused of not sharing his username/passwords with the Enforcement Directorate and said, “We are not a district court where you can play with the orders”.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant warned the accused that it would dismiss his plea for quashing the cases registered against him if he does not comply with the earlier orders of the court.

"Why have you not shared your username and password when it was recorded in our earlier order? We will dismiss your writ petition if there is non-compliance. The Supreme Court is not some district court, where you can play with the orders. You yourself had made the statement that you will share the username and passwords and now there is non-compliance. This is not a Tis Hazari Court," the bench told advocate PC Sen appearing for one Ajay Bhardwaj.

The bench asked the counsel to inform his client that he has to share the details with the ED and then it will hear him.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for ED, said that the accused is not cooperating with the investigating agency and has not shared the relevant details with it.

Senior advocate Siddharth Dave, also appearing for the accused, said all the relevant documents and email ids, and passwords were seized by the Pune Police including that of two crypto-currency wallets.

"ED does not understand the nuances of cryptocurrency but Pune Police does. They have been seized by cryptocurrency wallets' user id and passwords and even changed my password. They transferred 1800 Bitcoins from my wallet and an FIR has been lodged by the Pune Police against two policemen involved in transferring my Bitcoins," Dave said.

He said that his client is not shying away from sharing the details of his user ID and password with the ED but it should be done in the presence of his advocate.

Bhati said that these transactions have not taken place through normal banking channels and therefore it is important that the accused, who were running a Ponzi scheme, should share the details with the investigating agency.

She said that one of the accused Amit Bhardwaj has expired while two other brothers and their father is an accused in the case and they should share the details of transactions through which investors were duped.

The bench disposed of the plea filed by Amit Bhardwaj after noting that he has expired and asked Dave to convey to his clients that the username and passwords of cryptocurrency wallets have to be shared by Tuesday.

On March 28, the top court had asked a crypto-currency scam accused to disclose the username and password of his Bitcoin wallet to the ED and cooperate with the investigation in the money laundering case against him.

It had said that subject to Ajay Bhardwaj, accused of running a “multi-level marketing scheme” of Bitcoin making full disclosure, his interim protection granted by the court will continue.

Advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for one of the investors Vipin Kohli, had said that an application for cancellation of bail has been filed by him as Bhardwaj has not made full disclosure of facts to the court.

On February 25, the top court had asked the Centre to make its stand clear on whether cryptocurrency trade involving Bitcoin or any other such currencies is legal in India or not.

The top court was dealing with a case related to the quashing of multiple FIRs registered against Bhardwaj and others for allegedly duping investors across India by inducing them to trade in Bitcoin and assuring them high returns.

ED has submitted that they would file an affidavit on the legality of the cryptocurrency trade and added that the accused, who is seeking quashing of proceedings, has not been cooperating with the investigating agency after being granted bail by the court in 2019.

Bhati has said that 47 FIRs have been registered against the accused of duping people across the country and the issue involves a trade of 87,000 Bitcoin worth Rs 20,000 crore.

The top court had directed Bhardwaj to appear before the investigating officer of ED within two days and thereafter cooperate with the investigation as and when called upon to do so.

The bench said the ad-interim order restraining the arrest of Bhardwaj shall continue till the next date of listing of the matter.

Alam had said that Bhardwaj has deliberately suppressed the fact that Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM), Patiala House Court through court notice had issued a proclamation requiring the appearance of the accused under Section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The allegation against Bhardwaj is that he along with other co-accused, who are mostly his family members, had induced investors to invest in Bitcoin through a “multi-level marketing scheme” on false promises of securing the investors a 10 per cent assured monthly returns for 18 months that is total of 180 percent profit.

It was alleged that due to the dishonest inducement, the customers invested their Bitcoins in the said business, but after making the investment they did not get the assured returns.

The FIRs also said that to escape from inevitable punishment under the law, Bhardwaj and other co-accused persons collectively, in a dishonest manner and with the deliberate intention of destroying all the evidence shut down the fake 'gainbitcoin' website through which investors made the investment.



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