Header image alt text


Building a Responsible Cyber Society…Since 1998

The tragedy of Shafhi Mohammad judgement

Posted by Vijayashankar Na on April 19, 2018
Posted in Cyber Law  | Tagged With: , | No Comments yet, please leave one

“This erroneous interpretation of the bench will directly result in honest persons being harassed by dishonest persons” …. Naavi

The honourable Supreme Court in its order dated 3rd April 2018 pronounced its final order on the Special Leave Petition (SLP 2302 of 2017) regarding the use of videography including body cameras in crime scene evidence capture. There was an earlier interim order of 30th January 2018  on the same SLP which had elaborated more on the issue of Section 65B of Indian Evidence Act.

The order indicates that the Supreme Court wanted to allow such videography and tried to manufacture an acceptable argument to reach a preconceived conclusion. This tendency was earlier seen in the Shreya Singhal case where Section 66A of ITA 2008 was scrapped and also in the Puttaswamy case on Privacy. In all these cases, the Judiciary has come out in poor light as trying to fit its logic to a pre conceived decision. In the process, the judgement creates some untenable and undesirable consequences.

In the Section 66A scrapping, the SC was adamant that it cannot “Read down” the section and nothing short of scrapping it would be acceptable to it. In the Privacy judgement, it was an attempt to rush through a judgement to influence another judgement. Now this Shafhi Mohammad judgement falls into the same category.

In a bid to allow such videography, the two member bench has tried to bend the law in a manner that is highly detrimental to the society and could lead to corruption in judiciary and harassment of innocent citizens by powerful and more intelligent evidence manipulators.

It is not our argument that body cameras and police TV footage should not be used as evidence. In fact these and much more of technology is to be used and is aleady being used.

However, we have a serious objection to the attempt of the two member bench to re-interpret the law as it exists and in derogation of a three member speaking order in the case of P V Anvar Vs Basheer.

The Indian Evidence Act 1872 (IEA) was amended when ITA 2000 was notified and one of the major changes that was brought about  was the introduction of Section 65B for “Admissibility of Electronic Evidence”. This has to be read with Section 65A, Section 22A, Section 17 and Section 3 of the same Act.

Section 65B of IEA is one of the most innovative aspects of ITA 2000/IEA and the Court has failed to recognize the purpose and scope of the section before jumping into passing an order which is bad in law and bad for the community.

The problem which the Police had in using the Videography as evidence was that the videography was captured in some camera and the first copy would be recorded in the device memory which could be the hardware or the removable media. It is then transferred to the Police in the back room and subsequently viewed, edited and presented as evidence in a Court.

In this scenario, if Section 65B was followed, then some body in the Police should have taken the responsibility to give a Section 65B certificate which would pin him down against any manipulation of the evidence.

The Court conveniently ignored  that Section 65B was about presenting a “Computer Output” of an electronic document which may be present either in a camera device or on a server or on a removable media such as a pen drive or memory card. The only requirement was that the Certifier had to take the responsibility to state how he was able to view the document in his computer and how he was able to produce the computer output (say a print out).

Section 65B does not require the lawful owner of the first device which created an electronic impression (sequence of zeros and ones) of an event to either himself give the evidence in the Court. It would suffice if he hands over a memory card to the Police repository in charge with a standard form which identifies the memory card along with a hash value of the entire set of bits and sequences contained there in such as “Videograph of day …. in camera ….) and a signed covering letter. This form of handing over the recorded removable device can be standardised and is not complicated.

Subsequently it is the responsibility of the repository in charge to create clones and copies as may be required along with his own Section 65B certificate. The forensic expert may actually extract much more information than what is visible by using his own tools and he  can provide his findings with his own Section 65B certificate. Similarly if there is a need to edit the video, there is no bar on it under Section 65B except that it has to be recorded as a process in the Certificate. For example if the video is of one hour duration between say 20.30 and 21.30 on 17th April 2018, the edited version may be video between 20.55  to 21.10 and it can be stated as such in the certificate.

What the Court has done now is to say that “No Certificate is required under Section 65B when the electronic document is presented from a device not owned by the person presenting the evidence”. Police can conveniently say that they engaged the services of a free lance video grapher and the camera belonged to him and hence no certificate is required for whatever the Police present.

Even if the evidence is manipulated, there is no responsibility fixed on any body in the absence of the Certificate.

In the same manner, when an electronic document lies on a server not owned by the person it can be manipulated and presented as evidence and the Court has to admit the evidence and ask the defendant to prove that the evidence is wrong.

If therefore some body hacks into a web server, downloads a document, makes changes and captures it, then goes onto to delete the document on the server, he will be in possession of a doctored document which can be produced as evidence which will be automatically admitted. Then it will be the burden on the defendant to prove that the version presented to the Court is fake. This can also happen in WhatsApp messages and Social media where fake documents can be created, captured as uncertified evidence, destroyed in original form and uncertified copy presented to the Court which the Court has no option but to admit.

I would like the two honourable Judges to confirm if they have considered the above scenario before boldly declaring that they would clarify that Section 65B is only a procedural requirement which they consider as redundant in some cases. If they have not, it is necessary for them to review their own decision rather than creating a bad law which exposes the ignorance of the Judiciary.

I accept that the Government has the power to change the law and can even scrap the entire Sections 65A and 65B if they want. But as long as they exist, they exist as independent sections and as the three member bench in the Basheer case rightly observed, it is a special provision applicable for electronic documents and over rides the provisions of Sections 62,63 and 65.

It is therefore incorrect to interpret

” The applicability of procedural requirement under Section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act of furnishing certificate is to be applied only when such electronic evidence is produced by  person who is in a position to produce such certificate being in control of the said device and not of the opposite party.”

It is also incorrect to interpret

“In a case where electronic evidence is produced by a party who is not in possession of a device, applicability of Sections 63 and 65 of the Evidence Act cannot be held to be excluded. In such case, procedure under the said Sections can certainly be invoked. If this is not so permitted, it will be denial of justice to the person who is in possession of authentic evidence/witness but on account of manner of proving,”

In fact

“This erroneous interpretation of the bench will directly result in honest persons being harassed by dishonest persons”

In fact

“This erroneous interpretation will pave the way for a high level of Judicial corruption because it provides the discretion to the Judiciary to accept evidence without any body taking responsibility for its existence”

In fact

“This erroneous interpretation will place all web place all web based documents admissible without any person taking the responsibility for stating how it was seen and recorded.”

In fact

“This erroneous interpretation will create more rogue judgements where the lower courts will order against the higher courts by way of clarification”

It is therefore essential that the bench immediately reviews its own order and state nothing beyond, that

“The Supreme Court reserves the right to accept electronic evidence without Section 65B evidence in such cases as it deems fit after a necessary examination”

The MHA should get back to the bench for the review as otherwise the MHA under Mr Modi’s Government will be accused of having manipulated the Judiciary to pave the way for Police to file uncertified fake videos as evidence.


(This article is a continuation of this previous article)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We draw attention of the public on our earlier article on the interim view expressed by a bench of the Supreme Court on January 30, 2018, which was headlined by most news publications as “Courts can rely on electronic records without certificate: SC”

We had commented in the context “Recipe for corruption in Judiciary- Supreme Court judgement in Shafhi Mohammad V State of Himachal Pradesh“.

This was a two bench order on an SLP but it had stated in the order that

“An apprehension was expressed on the question of applicability of conditions under Section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act to the effect that

if a statement was given in evidence, a certificate was required in terms of the said provision from a person occupying a responsible position in relation to operation of the relevant device or the management of relevant activities.

It was submitted that if the electronic evidence was relevant and produced by a person who was not in custody of the device from which the electronic document was generated, requirement of such certificate couldnot be mandatory.

It was submitted that Section 65B of the Evidence Act was a procedural provision to prove relevant admissible evidence and was intended to supplement the law on the point by declaring that any information in an electronicrecord, covered by the said provision, was to be deemed to be a document and admissible in any proceedings without further proof of the original.

This provision could not be read in derogation of the existing law on admissibility of electronic evidence.”

The Court quoted one judgement of 1985 and an American judgement of 1972, (delivered long before Section 65B was conceived for electronic evidence) which stated “…it will be wrong to deny to the law of evidence advantages to be gained by new techniques and new devices, provided the accuracy of the recording can be proved. “

A case was made out  through two other cases to state

 “Scientific and electronic evidence can be a great help to an investigating agency.”

 “new techniques and devices are order of the day”

“threshold admissibility of an electronic evidence cannot be ruled out on any technicality if the same was relevant.”

Then the judges referred to the Anvar PV Vs P.K. Basheer case as well as the Navjot Sandhu (alias Afsan Guru) case which it over ruled.

The two member bench referred to the Tomasho Bruno (2015) and Ramsingh (1985 judgement) and went on to conclude

“it can be safely held that electronic evidence is admissible and provisions under Sections 65A and 65B of the Evidence Act are by way of a clarification and are procedural provisions.”

Proceeding further, the two member bench over ruled the judgement of the three member bench in Basheer Judgement which took into account the recent developments in technology and had examined the question of Section 65B in great length and made the following statements.

“Sections 65A and 65B of the Evidence Act, 1872 cannot be held to be a complete code on the subject.”

” The applicability of procedural requirement under Section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act of furnishing certificate is to be applied only when such electronic evidence is produced by  person who is in a position to produce such certificate being in control of the said device and not of the opposite party.”

“In a case where electronic evidence is produced by a party who is not in possession of a device, applicability of Sections 63 and 65 of the Evidence Act cannot be held to be excluded. In such case, procedure under the said Sections can certainly be invoked. If this is not so permitted, it will be denial of justice to the person who is in possession of authentic evidence/witness but on account of manner of proving, such document is kept out of consideration by the court in absence of certificate under Section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act, which party producing cannot possibly secure. Thus, requirement of certificate under Section 65B(h) is not always mandatory.”

Accordingly, we clarify the legal position on the subject on the admissibility of the electronic evidence, especially by a party who is not in possession of device from which the document is produced. Such party cannot be required to produce certificate under Section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act. The applicability of requirement of certificate being procedural can be relaxed by Court wherever interest of justice so justifies.

Now the bench has released its final judgement in the case and a final order has been issued on 3rd April 2018.

We therefore re-visit the judgement on what is stated in the final order, read in conjunction with what was stated in the earlier order of January 30, 2018.

We would like to state that we have no disagreement to the use of Videography by Police through body cameras which was central to the discussions in this case. We are not in disagreement even with the use of  Surveillance, Profiling, use of Artificial intelligence in Policing etc which are opposed to the policy of “Privacy Protection” which are dear to the Supreme Court judges.

But we are in disagreement with the views of the bench as to the conclusions that they have drawn and also to the fact that they have gone against the tradition of not trying to over rule a verdict of the higher court.

We do agree that the Court should exercise discretion when “Justice so justifies” to bend some rules temporarily. This was done in the Sonu @ Amar judgement  for the right cause and we support it. However the judgement in the Shafhi Mohammad Case is boarne out of a wrong interpretation and hence needs to be opposed.

Our opinion on the reasons of why this judgement is bad for the society and is wrong in law is presented below. This is not to show any disrespect on the Court but to engage in an academic debate on a point where we feel that technology related interpretation has gone wrong in this instance and needs to be corrected if necessary.

However, we feel that this being a two member decision relevant to a specific reference cannot create an over riding law against the three member judgement though the Judges seem to think that it should be.

More discussion will follow…


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Faith and Science must go hand in hand
For the seekers of the Divine Land.
Faith bereft of reasoning becomes superstition,
Science less Faith blinds man to the Divine Vision

(From : Towards A Serene World by Ravichandran)

Technology for the sake of technology and innovation for the sake of innovation has been the bane of human inventions over ages.  We have invented devices which initially seemed to be a boon and then find that it has become a hindrance and finally, like the albatross around the Ancient Mariner, it becomes an impossibility to discard.

When the Internet was introduced nobody thought it would spread so fast, so far and so wide. We have made the Internet the repository of all information critical and non-critical. The Internet is and has become at least for most of us the only means of staying in touch with each other. All this has occurred without a proper risk assessment being done. Today if the internet crashes and remains down for a measurable period then it is quite possible that countries and humans will lose economically, politically and territorially, significant portions of their resources.

Artificial Intelligence, which is now being touted as the panacea of all our ills is one such innovation, which has the potential of causing the destruction of human civilization.

Prof. Stephen Hawking has warned about this when he stated that “development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”. I would like to go one step further and say that development of full artificial intelligence will spell the end of Human race. My reason for this foreboding is located in history, reactions of people to circumstances and our way of thinking.

It is generally believed that Homo Sapiens evolved over a period from Hominids and they form a single branch of evolution. What is not generally known is that Homo Sapiens shared the world with several other cousins the Neanderthals, the Densovian Man, Homo Florensis or the Hobbits and Homo Naledi, to name just a few,  all of whom evolved from the same branch but became extinct around 75,000 years ago and later when Mount Toba in S.E. Asia erupted and caused a cataclysmic climate change.

While all these cousins showed similar skills like making and using tools and had similar anthropological features like the same cranium size, the difference lay in certain areas of the cranium which indicated that Homo Sapiens had a better ability as far as communication skills went.  A raised eyebrow or the rolling of the eyes that could communicate an entire gamut of feelings has been one of the strong points for the Homo Sapiens to survive the harsh conditions of nature and predators alike.

This is extremely important since it indicates that experiences and information could be shared from individual to individual and the modern man had the ability to analyse, adapt, adopt, communicate and assimilate changes around him. This could be the reason for his survival and the extinction of other races.  It has taken 600,000 years for Homo Sapiens to evolve and understand that he had the ability to create intelligent tools that could think like himself.  The fly in the ointment is that these intelligent tools could evolve in the next thirty to sixty years and design more intelligent devices which could make the human an anachronism.

When a baby is born it comes with the result of experiences formed over 600,000 years of human existence and this intuition lies in the unconscious part of the mind.

It is this intuition which enables a mother to recognize her child among thousands of similar children as evinced in the wild. It is this intuition which causes the baby to seek the protection of that being which gave birth to it.

Intuition arises from the unconscious mind. Along with the intuition comes the experiences submerged in the sub conscious mind which is the sum total of the experiences while in the womb and in its interaction with the outside world in the first period of its existence when it absorbs the inputs received by it. This is the instinct which makes one shy away from fire or avoid places or people without giving any reason. This instinct arises from the sub conscious mind. When the baby grows and has access to information about people, events and surroundings it can relate this information and make use of it to reach decisions. This is the intelligence which arises from the conscious mind. A decision taken by a human being is the sum of all of this and more.

The neural networks in the brain have evolved over the centuries to be receptive to new information, to transform these information to memory bits and retrieve them when required to link the same to new information and cause an action to be done or a decision to be taken or to incorporate and modify the memory bit already present. These processes are done by and in co-ordination with the DNA and the RNA of an individual and these give rise to the different reactions of different people to a same set of circumstances.

This is one of the reasons why human behaviour is unpredictable even if Mark Zuckerberg or Sundar Pitchiah think otherwise. It is possible that the reactions of a group of people to a particular situation can be influenced or directed. It is also possible that this group of people can further influence another larger group of people to think likewise but over a period of time and distance the influence will gradually wane and in some case an opposite reaction could set in. The Arab Spring offensive is one such example.

Artificial Intelligence or AI for short is the mimicking of the cognitive functions of the human brain by devices to do jobs which require a certain amount of connecting disparate pieces of information available to the device in its memory or received by it from the surroundings or by inferring it from the information made available to it. Pattern recognition is an important tool in the building of artificial intelligent devices.  AI is powered by a set of algorithms which are built in increasing complexities. These algorithms are designed to learn from data.  They can increase their capabilities by learning new plans of action or policy that have been successful in the past or themselves write other algorithms which will provide solution to achieving an end or goal.

Formal Logic along with Bayesian inference and analogizers like Support Vector Networks or Machines, nearest neighbour approach and the neural network approach which works on the principal of reinforcement of the connections between the artificial internal neurons have ensured that AI which started with the most basic functions are now becoming increasingly complex, self-sustaining and self-empowering.

The only thing lacking in the current scenario is the intuitive and instinctive reasoning that is associated with human thinking. Apart from this common-sense interpretation of written language, interpretation of unvoiced gestures and body language has also not been integrated in the current programs. But it is work in progress.

The above deficiencies are to a large extent offset by application of probability and statistical methods of prediction of the path and in my view, we are already at the stage or very near to a break through in enabling devices to predict the unpredictable. Therein lies the danger.

 Recent experiments at Facebook and Google indicated that during a given test process two devices which were to interact with one another in a particular sequence and in a language, which could be understood and interpreted by the handlers chose to communicate in a language created by themselves and indecipherable to the handlers. Facebook shutdown the program while Google chose to go with it.  This experiment in one way represents the danger that was only found in myths, fiction and Sci-fi movies.

AI programs are being designed in an unregulated environment without a clear understanding of how, when and why each program could individually or collectively contribute to a runaway uncontrolled progress of AI devices to reprogram themselves into superior AI devices than envisaged by it creators. The process is made easier since AI programs could target the internet, where such advances are regularly aired in scientific forums or workshops such as this, and, openly or clandestinely tap into programs and protocols which will enhance its capability with or without the handler’s permission, in ignorance or intentional.

I anticipate that a point of inflection will be arrived when AI will not require human interference or assistance to develop more AI programs to either increase its own creativity or degrade human reasoning by psychological and virtual influencing.

Unsupervised learning, exaggerated response to perceived threats or flags, complex algorithms outpacing human understanding are issues that have cropped up in the recent past in areas where AI has been interjected at a fast pace. These areas include Stock Exchanges, Missile response troops in the military and airport traffic control systems. When Murphy’s law kicks in the result will be catastrophic as already witnessed in the economic crash of 2008.

This paper is to sensitize all wannabe AI programmers and the corporates which fund AI experiments to further their own bottom lines to step back and reflect on the way forward before the Frankenstein that is being created destroys its creator and everybody else. The AI dictator will not have a natural death. It will view every attempt to corrupt it as an attack by a predator and proceed to eliminate the threat.

As an aside one wonders if Satan influenced Adam to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge rather than from the Tree of Life which would have conferred on man immortality, since he foresaw that Man would eventually end up destroying himself by an unsatiated thirst for knowledge.


[P.S: This is a guest post from S.N.Ravichandran, Director of Nilgiris Chemical Stoneware Co. (P) Ltd Coimbatore,  and represent his personal views.]



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We all know that Bitcoin is the popular currency of the criminals. The fact that some honest persons are gullible enough to believe that it is a “Currency” does not create a case for sympathizing with people who might have invested in Bitcoin directly or in a business related to Bitcoin.

While technically, Bitcoin is “An Electronic Document” and is recognized in India as equivalent to a “Paper Document” and the Equivalent Paper document is deemed to say….

“This is a statement that this is a part of a bitcoin issued to wallet ID…. under block chain number…… and that …..bitcoins out of this has been transferred from …..wallet ID to ……..wallet ID”,

some people consider this as “Currency” and many people promote it and deal with it as if it is “Currency”.

However, in India, since RBI is the sole authority to issue “Currency” and it has not issued Bitcoin, making any reference to it as “Currency” is a misrepresentation and an attempt to commit fraud on the society.

Today there are thousands of persons in India who are guilty of this offence and could be rightfully questioned.

However, since the Police themselves have not understood the the real nature of Bitcoin, no action has been taken to prevent frauds on the society by people who advertise Bitcoin business, conduct promotional meetings etc.

There are also many otherwise respectable persons particularly in the tech industry who consider that Bitcoin represents a revolutionary concept of “Decentralized Monetary Control” and protects their investment from inflation, and is a symbol of “Freedom from Regulatory control of personal wealth” etc…

Ultimately, all those who are championing Bitcoin are people who are fighting for their right to hold unaccounted money and ensure that Government should not tax them for the Bitcoin wealth they posses. (Some exceptions could be there to this presumption)

After the demonetization in India, the Black Money holders who are on the run, are the dearest friends of Bitcoin and we can find such friends in many political parties as well as corrupt bureaucrats and perhaps even in the Police and Judiciary.

Recently it was reported that nine rogue police officers in Gujarat, kidnapped a businessman and extorted a ransom of 200 bitcoins (Refer article here). This shows that Police at least some of them, today are aware of the potential of Bitcoin as a proxy for “Black Money” .

Since the entire Bitcoin industry revolves around “Crime”, it is to be expected that “Bitcoin Business” is managed by people who are mentally more friendly with the criminals or are criminals themselves.

I am therefore not surprised when reports emanate that some Bitcoin exchange was hacked, Bitcoin holder was defrauded etc. I donot have much sympathy for those who lose Bitcoins also.

In this background it is interesting to note that a complaint has been filed by Secure Bitcoin Traders Pvt Ltd (Coinsecure.in) by its Director Mohit Kalra that 438.31859715 bitcoins were unauthorizedly moved to a BTC address  as shown below:

The website of the company has put up a notice on its website that users may be assured that their money was safe and action is being taken with investigation authorities.

According to the notice on the website a copy of which is given here, the Company states that the CSO Dr Amitabh Saxena while extracting the coins to distribute to its customer has reported that the private keys have been lost causing the loss of BTCs.

The Company has now filed a complaint, at Delhi and the Police have registered the Complaint as indicated below.

This is not the first time that a Bitcoin Exchange has reported an attack and loss of Bitcoins from its storage.  The value of the Bitcoins reported lost in the current incident is more than 22 crores and as per the above documents, the loss may not be of the individual customers but of the Company.

The Company states that “It feels” that Dr Amitabh Saxena is making a false story and he may have a role to play in the incident.

I am not sure if Police can file an FIR and impound the Passport of the accused based on this “Feeling”. The Company needs to provide some evidence to say that MR Amitabh is the owner of the Bitcoin wallet to which the money has been transferred. Otherwise it is speculation and there could be some other internal rivalry that may be playing out in this case.

I will not be surprised if Mr Amitabh comes out with his own story in which he may reveal that the owners of the Company have many undeclared Bitcoin wallets etc. and some such differences are behind this attempt to fix him.

The ED recently conducted a survey and all the owners of the Company should have given declarations of their own transactions in Bitcoins in the past. Now ED needs to join the investigation and find out if Mr Amitabh has a story of his own to tell.

When a gang of criminals fall out amongst themselves, Police have a field day to unearth many other crimes. In this case also many more Bitcoin deals which represent anti national activities would tumble out during the investigation.

It is likely to be a very sensitive investigation which has to be immediately taken over by CBI since locating the Bitcoin wallet owner is beyond the capability of the Delhi Police.

It’s a Challenge to the Bitcoin Community also

This will also be a challenge to the Bitcoin community itself. Will they help the law enforcement authorities to investigate and unravel the “Privacy” of the Bitcoin wallet? or will they try to preserve the integrity of the Bitcoin system by sticking to the fact that Bitcoin wallet cannot be traced?

Will the “Privacy Activists” who oppose Aadhaar because it can be a Black Money prevention tool come in support of “Bitcoin” ? or remain silent? are the interesting challenges ahead.

I believe that there is a technology (however unreliable it may be) to zero in on the ownership of the anonymous Bitcoin Wallet and if the law enforcement pursues it properly with the help of honest technologists, it may be possible to find out the ownership of the wallet in question and successfully investigate the complaint.

Will it happen? … or some time during the investigations, further flow of Bitcoins to other wallets will result in its closure as “Unresolved”? …only time will tell.

Legal Perspective

While looking at the complaint that bitcoins were “Stolen” from “Company’s Bitcoin wallet”, I am reminded of the complaint in the year 2000 (before ITA 2000) when in Delhi there was a complaint about “Theft of Internet Hours”. At that time there was no ITA 2000 and what had happenned was that a person who installed the internet account for the customer gave away the password to a cyber cafe who cleaned out 100 hours of internet browsing time within a day. The user complained that “My Internet hours were stolen”. I had discussed at that time that it could be a case under “Breach of Trust” etc since it may not fit into  “Theft” under IPC since “Internet Browsing hours” is not a “Movable Property”.

A similar discussion now is relevant. The complaint is that there was an “Unauthorized Electronic Document related activity” resulting in “Wrongful loss to the company”, Suspected to be from one of the employees.

Now the way the Complaint has been lodged by the Company which I consider was not a wise thing for the company to have done rather than gulping down the loss however unpalatable it could have been. According to the complaint, it is a case of “Unauthorized Access” under Section 43 and Section 66 of ITA 2000/8. There could be Section 66C and 66D but it is not clear.

Before the crime is recognized, there has to be an “Evidence of Crime”. We need to know whether 438.31859715 bitcoins were actually available in the Wallet account and it is no longer there. Company has to prove that this wallet account belonged to the Company and it had authorization under FEMA and RBI to open the account and conduct all the transactions it did in the past in the account. This is where ED can catch the company by its scruff and ask for details of each and every transaction that occurred in the wallet and whether they were transactions that were declared in the ED survey or were concealed.

Of course this evidence has to be Section 65B certified.

Then Mr Amitabh has to be questioned on how does he normally extract BTC from the Company’s vault and distributes? … past examples…. (again to be checked and verified with the company’s IT declarations) etc…. again all to be Section 65B certified.

Next is the identity of the Wallet… Who is the Wallet service provider… Is he Indian or not?… Does he come under the jurisdiction of Section 75? … Does it require Interpol assistance for which CBI involvement is mandatory? ..

Overall it is an interesting investigation to follow. Coin Secure by filing the complaint has given an authority for the Police, CBI, Regulators like RBI and the Indian Courts to tear into the  system of Bitcoin management and expose all the nefarious things that happen in the Bitcoin industry.

But the stakes are so high, that unless there is monitoring of the case by public spirited Court and Media, the case will get buried.

Perhaps Mr Modi has to instruct Mr Rajnath Singh to take personal interest in this investigation and take it to the logical end. The Finance Ministry is suspected to have many Bitcoin sympathizers and investigation at their level may not be trustworthy.

Let us wait and watch this interesting battle.


(P.S: Parts of the article may be unpalatable to some. Kindly excuse me. Consider that  I am just making a larger point. )





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Trap is laid for Gullible Bitcoin Investors

Posted by Vijayashankar Na on April 11, 2018
Posted in Cyber Law  | Tagged With: , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

Just lat week, RBI declared:

 it has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling VCs. Regulated entities which already provide such services shall exit the relationship within a specified time.

Most media men interpreted this as a clear indication that no Bank or NBFC or Commodity traders also registered for Foreign Exchange trading, could have any business related to Bitcoins. The earlier action of the ED sending out notices to lakhs of Bitcoin investors who had traded in any of the Indian exchanges to disclose the source of their acquisition and also the details of tax payments on the Bitcoin transactions had also indicated that Bitcoin investors will face both action from RBI and ED if they continue to indulge in Bitcoin.

It is obvious that most Bitcoin investments were made out of black money and hence the investors were trying to hide themselves. The Exchanges are taking steps to move out to other countries such as Singapore and handle the business emanating from India. The Bitcoin holders who have remained underground so far are trying to find exchanges outside India to either sell their bitcoin holdings and quit their positions or continue to invest.

However, any movement of INR to Bitcoins and conversion of Bitcoins to undeclared Foreign Exchange accounts could be violation of FEMA and land the investors in bigger trouble than just surrendering their holdings to the Indian Government and pay whatever tax they need to pay and enjoy what is left. Since however the prices have tumbled from around USD 19000 per bitcoin to less than USD 7000, not much of profit or capital may be left for many of these Bitcoin investors who continued to ignore our suggestions to stay away.

When the situation therefore indicates that no sane investor would like to invest in Bitcoins in India now, it is  surprising that a company called “Synup” which declares itself as a Newyork and Bangalore based startup with operations in US and Canada and founded by a serial entrepreneur, Ashwin Ramesh has issued a Press Release today a launch of a new website coinfriendly.io with  10717 bitcoin accepting businesses listed on its platform. The objective of the website is clearly stted as to allow biticon users across the globe to identify these stores and services in 20 countries and becoming the largest repository of local businesses.

Ofcourse, at present there are no India based  businesses listed on the platform and hence this will project itself more like a directory of Bitcoin companies across the globe excluding India.

If there is no target audience in India to use the platform, it appears strange that the Company should send out the press release to Bangalore based publications.

We have to wait for tomorrow to see which publications carry the press release and what they write. However we can expect at least some of the publications carry the press release even if in the inside pages, without their own comments. Like a typical phishing campaign, message will reach out to Bitcoin sensitive audiences.

The obvious inference is that the publicity is meant to inform the Bitcoin investors that even if India based Bitcoin exchanges shut down their operations, there could be many options in other countries to park their black money. It should also be possible to launder the Bitcoin holdings through many of the businesses listed in the platform to buy goods or simply trade it for foreign exchange.

Gullible investors may therefore fall into the trap for using the services of any of the listed service providers to use their Bitcoins or buy fresh bitcoins if available through any exchanges.

Investors in India are hereby cautioned that any dealings with the entities listed in this website will be in the radar of the ED as people dealing with these entities will clearly be those who will be using black money holdings in the form of Bitcoins.

Such customers may therefore quietly start getting notices as to explain the source of their bitcoins used and whether they have more bitcoins in stock.

If ED has not yet started this activity, they better do it immediately.

In the meantime, Police in Bangalore should also keep a watch on this Company’s activities and whether it will promote Bitcoin indirectly in India.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

I have been informed by some customers of State Bank of India, particularly in the Srinagar Branch of Bangalore that the Bank is asking for e-mail ID from its customers who want to file 15G certificate.

It is said that many of the account holders who donot have e-mail addresses have been told that it is mandatory and otherwise the TDS the form will not be accepted. Not sure if this is an attempt at a systematic loot of people or it is a method of discrediting BJP and Mr Modi before the elections in Karnataka.

From the perspective of information security, it appears that many of the customers some of them not fully aware of the implications have been told that any e-mail address can be given if they donot have an e-mail ID.

More importantly, some of them have been directed to the nearest Cyber Cafe to open an e-mail account. The Cyber Cafe owner has given them some chit which the customers have given to the Bank. The Chit would have the e-mail address and God knows who knows the password. At least, my housemaid who opened one such e-mail account did not know anything about the password and what the e-mail address is for.

Firstly this is an unfair demand made by SBI to insist that e-mail address is mandatory along with the mobile number. It is dangerous to let the customers who donot know about e-mail management to open accounts with the Cyber Cafe.

There is every possibility that the staff of the Bank and the Cyber Cafe owner would collude and change PIN of the ATM cards and cheat the customers.

I therefore request that an investigation be carried out to find out why State Bank of India, Srinagar branch of Bangalore (Donot confuse with J&K) is insisting on such a procedure unmindful of the risks.

Are they so naive?… If so they deserve to be removed from their positions immediately. If not the possibility of a scam brewing should be recognized and corrective action taken.

If there are political reasons for this, I request the BJP MLA Mr Ravi Subramanya to enquire and find out.


On 10th April 2018, I received a call from SBI stating that through an error in programming, the particular e-mail field had been rendered “mandatory” and hence there was problem. They confirmed that action will be taken to correct the same. Also the Bank officer who called profusely thanked for bringing the problem to their notice. We appreciate the immediate action taken by the Bank….. Naavi

Print Friendly, PDF & Email