State Bank never Declared Cryptocurrency illegal, SHC told


KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday expressed resentment over the federal ministry of finance for not filing its comments on a petition about cryptocurrency while the State Bank of Pakistan said it had never declared it illegal.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha sought comments till Jan 13 from the SBP that whether or not there was any law to prevent the cryptocurrency business in Pakistan.

It also warned that if the comments were not filed till next hearing by the deputy additional attorney on the behalf of ministry, the finance secretary will have to appear in person for explanation.

The bench issued a show-cause notice to FIA cybercrime deputy director Abdul Ghaffar over his absence and directed him to appear on next hearing with a reply and to explain how the FIA came to register a case against the petitioner.

When the bench took up a petition challenging a circular reportedly issued in April 2018 by the SBP barring the use of virtual currencies, it expressed displeasure over the finance ministry and the FIA for not filing comments as on the last hearing the bench had granted them last chance to submit replies.

SBP joint director Rehan Masood informed the bench that they had never declared cryptocurrency illegal.

The bench directed him to be in attendance at the next hearing and to file statement as to whether or not there was any law, rule or regulation which prevents the cryptocurrency business in Pakistan.

The bench restrained the FIA from harassing the petitioner.

Waqar Zaka moved the SHC and contended that on April 6, 2018 the SBP governor had issued a circular advising all banks and payment system operators to refrain from processing, using, trading, transferring and investing in virtual currencies/token.

The petitioner asked the court to declare the impugned circular null and void since it was in violation of Articles 4 and 18 of the Constitution.

He also sought restraining order for the FIA not to arrest the people who owned virtual assets or crypto mining machines and were willing to pay tax.

Plea about domiciles, PRCs

Another SHC division bench on Thursday directed the Sindh additional advocate general to file a report regarding a reported fire that erupted in the record room of domiciles and PRCs at deputy commissioner office (East) till Jan 11.

MQM-P leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan and others had filed a petition against the issuance of domiciles and PRCs to people not residing in the provincial metropolis.

The MQM leader contended that the fire that erupted in the record room of DC East office appeared to be intentional.

Plea of Jakhrani dismissed

The SHC on Thursday dismissed a petition of former federal minister Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani seeking restraining order against National Accountability Bureau not to arrest him in an inquiry.

Earlier, the SHC had restrained NAB from arresting him.

A divisional bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro turned down the petition for the reasons to be recorded later.

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