The Supreme Court of India has chosen to delay its full hearing of a high-profile case against the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) ban on banks’ dealings with crypto-related businesses.

In an interview with Cointelegraph on Jan. 14, Kashif Raza — co-founder of the Indian crypto regulatory news and analysis platform Crypto Kanoon — recapped what is at stake in the case and argued that news of the delay need not dishearten the local crypto community. 

Constitutional contentions

As previously reported, Indian crypto exchanges and other industry firms have faced a moratorium on banking services since the Indian central bank, the RBI, implemented a ban on banks’ dealings with crypto businesses back in April 2018.

Since the RBI’s controversial prohibition came into effect in July 2018, both public and industry-led petitions have appealed to the courts on the grounds that the decision is unconstitutional.

As Kashif noted, today’s case was an amalgamation of various earlier petitions, and was brought before the court by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). 

IAMAI is a not-for-profit industry body whose mandate is to expand and enhance the online and mobile value-added services sectors and to appeal to the government on behalf of internet industry consumers, shareholders and investors. 

Raza underscored that the principal contention in the case remains an appeal against the ban on constitutional grounds. He interpreted the court’s latest actions in a positive light, telling Cointelegraph:

“Today RBI was supposed to reply to the representation filed by IAMAI [...] It seems that the Supreme Court of India today passed over the matter primarily because the court expects there to be longer arguments in this case, which could take their entire week. They gave it a pass so as to allow in future for a full-fledged hearing of the arguments, to listen to both parties. So interesting times ahead.”

In the Crypto Kanoon Telegram channel, Raza likewise struck a resounding note of positivity:

“The best part is that the court is willing to hear the matter, the court  has not adjourned the matter, it has only passed over [it] [...] I think it’s a very good sign, the court is willing to give both sides a fair chance to present their arguments [...] cheer up!” 

An adverse climate

As the local community awaits further developments, evidence of the ban’s already extensive toll on the Indian crypto industry is marked. 

Prominent domestic crypto exchanges such as WazirX had been forced to transform its business model into a P2P platform so as to avoid in-house crypto-fiat conversion, while other exchanges, like Coindelta, have been forced to terminate services altogether in light of the adverse operating climate for crypto businesses in the country.

Yet further challenges and uncertainty lie ahead. In fall 2019, the Indian government had opted to delay the introduction of a contentious draft bill on a potential cryptocurrency ban to parliament in the 2019 winter session.

The draft bill — entitled “Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currencies” — reportedly intends not only to impose a complete ban on the use of crypto in India but also to pave the way for a “Digital Rupee” issued by the Reserve Bank of India.