School of Law, Bennett University is conducting its Fourth National Moot Court Competition from February 11 to 13, 2022 which revolves around this theme of law and technology focusing on the Constitutionality of Cryptocurrency. The Moot Court Competition aims to dwell upon and discuss this relationship between law and technology; focusing on the implications of the legal system.
Law and Technology have often shared a unique relationship. Not only does law seek to govern various operational aspects in the usage of technology; it has also used technology for the purposes of its implementation. Technological advancements have often posed various challenges to the law which the latter is frequently and constantly struggling with. One such area in which this struggle has manifested itself is in the domain of Cryptocurrency. The emergence of cryptocurrency as a concept can be attributed to the increasing development of information and technology, posing numerous challenges in the field of data protection, the constitutionality of technology and privacy, with a major impact on finances and governance. This often leads the law to tackle the struggle which transpires in the dynamically progressing field of technology, and the regulation of the same becomes a major concern.
Brief Itinerary for Inaugural Ceremony
- Welcome Address by Dr Nuzhat Parveen Khan – 17:00
- Inaugural Address by Hon’ble Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva – 17:10
- Address by Dr Prabhu Kumar Aggarwal – 17.30
- Address by Apurba Kumar Sharma – 17.40
- Address by Shri. Devesh Tripathi – 17.55
- Address by Dr Shaiwal Satyarthi – 18.10
- Vote of Thanks – 18.20
Day 1 Updates
05:00 PM: The IV Bennett National Moot Court Competition has commenced. The Inaugural Ceremony is in the presence of the esteemed Chief Guest, Hon’ble Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, Judge, High Court, and the Guest of Honour Mr Apurba Kumar Sharma, Sr. Advocate & Chairman, Executive Committee, Bar Council of India.
05:06 PM: A very warm welcome is offered by Prof. Dr Nuzhat Praveen Khan, Dean, School of Law, Bennett University, to the dignitaries present in the Inaugural Ceremony. Dr Nuzhat emphasised how technology has played a crucial role in the successful execution of the Moot Court Competition. She then proceeded to shed light on how mooting plays an integral role in the curriculum of law students, and provides a platform to the budding lawyers, giving them an opportunity to experience first-hand the complexities surrounding Court and its working.
Dr Nuzhat introduced and explained the relevance of the theme to the audience, and explained how Law and Technology now affect the legal system. She also told the students how they should follow proper etiquette while mooting and answer the judges with caution and frame their arguments well. She gave some tips and shared her insight for the competition as to how mooting helps in networking and honing advocacy skills. Dr Nuzhat emphasised that though only one team emerges victorious, each participant receives the exposure which further hones their
She ended her speech wishing every participant success for whatever future endeavours they take.
05:20 PM: Dr Prabhu Aggawal begins his address by expressing his interest in law. He further enumerated the relevance of discussion around cryptocurrency, post Budget 2021. Dr Prabhu highlighted how law students present as a force of change in society. He spoke about how Bennett University has grown so much over the past 5 years from 200 students to 4000 students. Ever since covid has hit, it has opened a whole new area for students, teachers and firms. He also expressed his delight over the efficient working of Bennett university even though it didn’t have any students on campus for 2 years.
“Law can be a very fulfilling profession, as well as a satisfying one. If you have an intellectual quest, the law will satisfy it.”
This was heavily emphasised by Dr Prabhu in his address to all the participating teams.
05: 40 PM: Hon’ble Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva addressed the participants by stating that the world’s perspective changes once students take up law. He stated that the best way to win an argument is by being a law student as the subject offers a completely new perspective on how society functions at large. He emphasized the importance of mooting as it is a simulated training that allows the law student to become well versed with court craft.
Justice Sachdeva narrated a story about a heavy smoker and his interaction with a priest. He highlighted, via this story, how the structuring of an argument in a different manner can have varied impacts on another individual. He subsequently gave important advice regarding mooting to all the law students. According to Justice Sachdeva, one simple way of doing it is by preparing bullet points of highlights you want to stress over, and start with confidence and be prepared and respond by being a master of the facts and having a road plan. This will help to respond to the points the other side has made. He concluded his address by stating that winning or losing moot court competition is not important, but exposure provided by the moot court is important for all law students.
06:00 PM: Mr Apurba Kumar Sharma congratulated the Organising Team in successfully organising the IVth edition of the Bennett National Moot Court Competition. He is reiterated regarding the mandatory inclusion of moot court in the legal curriculum. He further emphasized the significance of Mooting in a law student’s life and stated how mooting is a tool for a law student to hone their skills and understand the application of the law. He also launched the Lawbyrinth, 2022, annual magazine for the School of Law, Bennett University.
06:10 PM: Shri Devesh Tripathi thanked all the dignitaries present in the Inaugural Ceremony and conveyed his congratulations to Dr Nuzhat Parveen Khan and the Organising Team. He introduced the concept of Cryptocurrency to all the participating teams and how it conforms as a necessary evil in a digital society like India. He highlighted how cryptocurrency is fuels activities such as terrorism on one hand, and how on other hand it is increasingly becoming a global legal tender in countries like Ecuador. He emphasized the need for regulations in cryptocurrency in a country like India as it has the second-largest private holding of cryptocurrency in the world.
06:20 PM: Dr Shaiwal Satyarthi congratulated the School of Law, Bennett University on choosing Constitutionality of Cryptocurrency as the theme for the Moot Court Competition. He equated Moot Court Competitions as flight simulators for the law students. He emphasized the importance it has in legal education. All moot court competitions are meant to familiarise the law students with professional skills and important branches of law and complex issues involved in the litigation. He offered tips to all the participants in the Moot Court and emphasized the team spirit which is harboured by teams in any Moot Court Competition. He concluded his address by wishing the best to all the participants and by encouraging them to take this competition as a learning experience.
06:30 PM: A vote of thanks is offered by Riya Kharab, Co-Convenor of Moot Court Committee, School of Law, Bennett University to all the dignitaries present in the Inaugural Ceremony.
Draw of Lots
07:00 PM: Draw of Lots has commenced. Anubhav Lamba, Convenor of Moot Court Committee, School of Law, Bennett University welcomed all the teams. The participating teams were assigned their roles for Preliminary Rounds, which are scheduled to take place tomorrow from 10:00 am onwards. Researchers from participating teams were directed to take the Researcher’s Test.
07:05 PM: Despite the challenges of being a virtual competition, the Organisers have found an innovative way to conduct the Researchers test, on their in-home developed Learning Management System. The test is for 30 minutes. Researchers were directed to the website after the draw of lots and were guided throughout by their team escorts.
Day 2 Itinerary
- Judges Briefing Sessions – 9:00 am -9:30 am
- Preliminary Round I – 10:00 am – 11:30 am
- Preliminary Round I – 12:00 pm – 13:30 pm
- Declaration of Results and Draw of Lots – 14:30 pm – 15:00 pm
- Quarter-Finals – 15:00 pm – 16: 30 pm
- Declaration of Results and Draw of Lots – 17:00 pm – 17:30 pm
Day 2 Updates
9:00 am: Judges Briefing Session has started. Assistant Professor Swarnim Swasti welcomed all the judges who would be judging today’s rounds and introduced Advocate Mr. Prashant Mishra. Advocate Prashant Mishra has prepared this year’s Moot Proposition.
9:05 am: Advocate Prashant Mishra introduced the theme of Moot Proposition i.e. Constitutionality of Cryptocurrency. He extensively discussed the legalities surrounding the concept of Cryptocurrency and how there is a need for regulations of cryptocurrency.
10:00 am – 11:45 am: Preliminary Round 1 started. Round 1 had 8 courtrooms and 16 participants pleading their cases before the appointed judges. This round witnessed judges extensively grilling the participants on both procedural and substantive aspects of law, and the principles enumerated in the Constitution of India. Participants applied their legal reasoning and knowledge to plead their cases on the behalf of their clients. Rounds concluded with judges offering constructive feedback to the participants to hone their legal skills.
12:06 pm – 12:35 pm: Preliminary Round 2 started. These Rounds witnessed participants getting extensively grilled by the judges for the application of their legal knowledge in the Moot Proposition. Participants from all the participating teams had answered the questions posed by the judges confidently. The judges gave constructive feedback to all the participants and congratulated them on successfully arguing their cases before the Court.
14:30: Results were declared and 8 out of 16 participating teams qualified for Quarter-Finals, and via Draw of Lots were assigned their roles for Quarter Finals.
15:02pm – 16:40 : Quarter-Finals started. The 8 participating teams were divided into 4 Court Rooms.
1. Court Room – 1: The Bench was presided by Adv. Pulkit Agarwal, Dr. Parikshet Sirohi, and Mr. Neeraj Kumar. The counsels for Petitioner argued for quashing of FIRs registered by the Respondents against their client and highlighted the violation of constitutional rights granted to his client. The counsels for respondents refuted the pleadings submitted before the Court and highlighted that the Petitioners were carrying out activities that threatened the law and order of society. The presiding judges had tested the legal knowledge of both parties by asking them questions about the procedural and substantive aspects of the law.
2. Court Room – 2: In this Court Room, the Bench constituted Mr. Ravi Kumar Raghuvanshi, Mr. Purushottam Anand, and Anasuya.The counsels for Petitioner argued regarding the two reliefs first issue was the constitutional validity of the Act and the second issue was regarding the quashing of FIR. The counsel of Respondent argued that the two writ petitions should not be clubbed as the grounds have not been fulfilled as the petition seeking quashing of FIR and challenging constitutionality of the act are two different matters that cannot be clubbed.
3. Court Room – 3: The Bench was presided by Dr. Shaiwal Satyarthi, Dr. Yasin Wani, and Mr. Kumar Kislay. Bench cross-questioned the counsel for Petitioners pertaining to the commonality of Legal Issue in the present case and the case cited. The relevance of the KS Puttaswamy Case in the present case was also questioned. The Legal backing of the argument that RBI cannot regulate cryptocurrency was also challenged. The Court questioned the counsel for Respondents pertaining to the prejudice that is caused to the respondent if the two petitions are clubbed together. The applicability of the IT Act, 2000 in the present case, was also questioned. The bench also questioned how do the Respondents address the issues and concerns of those who are holding the cryptocurrencies.
4. Court Room – 4: Adv. Prashant Jain, Ms. Swati Bala, and Mr. Faraz Aneez presided over the Court. The counsel from the petitioner side argued for the quashing of the FIR against them and how the FIR stands in violation of the rule of law and their fundamental right. The side of the respondent argued in the favour of not clubbing the two petitions as they talk of two different charges and are not similar. It was argued that virtual currency is a threat to society at large. The presiding judges took note of the arguments and tested legal knowledge and knowledge of the facts of the teams.
Declaration of Results and Draw of Lots for Semifinals
17:50 pm: Results of Quarter Finals were declared. The four qualifying teams will now present their pleadings in Semifinals, which are scheduled to commence tomorrow from 10.00 am onwards.
Day 3 Itinerary
- Judges Briefing – 10:30 am – 11:00 am
- Semifinals – 11:30 am -13:00 pm
- Finals – 14:30 pm – 16:00 pm
- Valedictory Ceremony – 16:30 pm – 18:45 pm
10:35 am: All the judges presiding in today’s Court Rooms were welcomed by Assistant Professor Swarnim Swasti. She introduced the judges to Adv. Prateek Mishra who has drafted the Moot Proposition for IV Bennett National Moot Court Competition. He briefed the judges with the concept and laws which were used to draft the Moot Proposition.
11:30 am – 13:30 pm: Semifinals started. The highlights from the Court Rooms –
Court Room 1:
Bench: Hon’ble Judges Dr Faizanur Rahman Adv. Swarnendu Chatterjee and Dr S.C. Roy presided over the Bench. Updates from the Court –
- The council for the petitioner submitted as the proceedings started in the favour of quashing the FIR. Further stating that the petition is maintainable. Judge Chatterjee questioned the petitioner on the applicability of the petition under Art 32 and asked why art 226 and CrPC 482 was not exercised and the petition was brought to the High court. The petitioner’s contention was that the government choice of time was arbitrary. This contention was further questioned by Justice Roy as to be a policy decision. The question of cryptocurrency being a fundamental right as under a profession was also put forth by Justice Roy.
- The petitioner contended that due to multiple cases being lodged in multiple states the petitioner sought to approach the SC in order to avoid appeal post high court judgement. The judges stated that it was valid to club all the cases lodged against the petitioner in states and that moving the SC before the High Court was not a validated move. Justice Chatterjee brought forth to knowledge the problem linked with the IT act and Internet service provider case. He further asked the counsels to show how section 72 was a malafide exercise of power. The question by Justice Chatterjee over the use of a third party payment processing company was put forth citing K.S Puttaswamy judgement. The petitoners then stated RBI notifications to justify the use of third party companies. Justice Chatterjee questioned the proportionality aspect of misuse and justified application of internet association case in the current case.
- The Respondents submitted that the petitoners did not correctly present the facts of the case to the court. Justice Chatterjee asked the respondents to contend on the points presented by petitioner on the matter of how they were allowed to hire third party company. Respondents stated that the agreement was changed when the third party shifted to Singapore and changed all agreement between them and users. This was seen as malafide action. Respondents presented that the policy decisions made by the govt were not absolute and can be amended but the petitioner did bring forth this problem to the RBI or govt but chose to save their business and mislead the people.
- Justice Chatterjee then asked respondents on whether or not they could have made safeguards and due to lack of them could the legislation be stayed and renewed when a remedy is provided. Justice Rahman questioned on the criminal applicability of cryptocurrency. He questioned how the misuse of cryptocurrency will allow for the sustanence of the ban and petitioner’s contention against it. Justice Roy also asked whether or not the respondents have compensated the investors due to the imposition of the ban. He asked the retrospective effect of the Act banning cryptocurrency.Respondent stated that they could not comment on such and that their task was to make sure a scam did not take place and quash any such attempts in its budding stages. They further utilised RBI circulars to stated the regulations of cryptocurrency.
- Rebuttal and Surrebuttal – Petitioners questioned the validity of the Cryptocurrency legislation. Respondents stated that it is not appropriate on their part to question the legislation. Respondents contended that they agree with petitioner on the right to livelihood but it was not applicable in business and cited judgements. They stated that the petitioner had targeted middle class people who required financial stability due to the pandemic.
Court Room 2:
Bench: Hon’ble Dr. Anurag Deep, Dr. KK Dwivedi and Snr. Adv Saurabh Trivedi
- Petitioners argued that both writ petitions can be merged on the basis that both cases have the same basis and similar facts, and FIR should be quashed since petitioner actions did not amount to the offences under the said sections in the FIR. It was presented by that due to the overriding effect of the EDC Act, the actions of the petitioners do not constitute an offence.
- Petitioners also argued that the State has breached the right to freedom through the EDCA rules. They presented that the law was arbitrary in nature and hence violated Article 14 of Indian Constitution. They also mentioned case laws for substantiating the same. Justice Anurag Deep then put forward a question: “Can the companies claim for fundamental rights under Article 19(1)g? Why or why not?” Justice Saurabh Trivedi added to the earlier question asking if Article 19 is applicable to the juristic persons too?
- Respondents argued that both the writ petitions should not be merged sating that both the petitions are neither connected nor linked in nature, in order to be merged. One writ petition is constitutional in nature, and the other is criminal in nature. Justice K.K. Deepak then posed a question regarding the citation of the authority to substantiate their argument. They argued that the court has the authority to quash the FIR and stated a judgment for substantiating the same. They also argued that the FIR cannot be quashed as there is an available alternative remedy and also that no fundamental right was breached.
- Respondents are that no fundamental right is being violated as the right to life is not absolute and hence can be overridden by procedures established by law. Thus, they argued that the FIR cannot be quashed. Many case laws have also been mentioned to support their arguments. Justice Anurag Deep has asked “Can the companies claim for fundamental rights under Article 19(1)g? Why or why not?” He also asked whether or not a corporation is a juristic person.
- Rebuttal and Surrebuttal: Petitioners rebutted that they have not ignored any provisions of the IT Act, but they contended that the actions of the petitioner would not amount to an offence as given under those sections. They contended that reasonable restrictions could have been imposed on the cryptocurrency other than banning the whole of it for the greater public good as mentioned by the respondents. Justice Anurag Deep again posed the question about the consideration of a company as a citizen or not. Respondents contended that the EDC does not have an overriding effect. They also contended that the new act is not arbitrary as a due process has been followed in legislating it, and also mentioned various uses of the act being enacted. Mentioned that the virtual currencies have no central authority.
14:30 pm: Finals have started. Assistant Professor Swarnim Swasti welcomed the judges presiding over the Court. Highlights of the Court –
Bench – Hon’ble Prof. Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, Snr. Adv. Atmaram Nadkarni and Prof. Dr. Farooq Ahmad Mir
- The petitioners proceeded with the facts. Justice Nandkarni posed the question of what is virtual currency? The petitioner speaker said that It is different from physical currency. They contended that Article 32 is maintainable. ECDA had no law to send back or refund money. Clubbing of petition is maintainable. Quashing of FIR is valid and there is a huge loss due to filing of FIRs. Justice Manoj asked has enough time passed to act already, on the loss. Justice Nadkarni raised the question as to how Article 32 is maintainable in absence of Indian citizens challenging it? The petitioners further contended that S. 3(1) of EDCA is not constitutional. It has lacuna.
- The respondents contended whether SC should allow writ petition of clubbed cases? As they are not related. Justice Manoj asked the respondents to highlight the case for the rule mentioned. He also asked if there is a link between the AK Gopalan case and the Maneka Gandhi case on the procedure established by law and whether is it maintainable to quash FIR and if Article 142 of the Constitution is satisfied? The respondents pleaded that It is not maintainable as the grounds are not met. There is no breach of Fundamental Rights as given in Article 19 (1) (g). Further, the alternative remedy to file writ before the HC is available as FIR is registered only at one place. Also, S. 72 and 72A of IT Act is violated. The respondents also submitted that ban on virtual currency is not violative of Article 19(1) (g) nor restricted under Article 19(6). The EDCA restrictions are valid. Total restriction is valid under Article 19 (6) as the nature of mischief needs it.
- Rebuttal and Surrebuttal: The petitioners submitted that Article 142 does not require any specific criteria to be fulfilled. There’s no ignorance of the law as IT ACT is well versed. Larger well being doesn’t mean overlooking the rights of the petitioner. If the business goes down, people associated with a business will be affected too. The respondents pointed out that Article 142 gives discretion to the court to club the petition. Also, EDCA said the application of the law was not barred. Additionally, 1.5 cr internet users are also taken into account for the future.
16:35 pm: Assistant Professor Ms Swarnim Swasti welcomed the Chief Guest, Guest of Honor, Special Guests, Dean of School of Law, Bennett University, and participating teams to the Valedictory Ceremony. She invited Mr Anubhav Lamba, Convenor of Moot Court Committee, School of Law, Bennett University to provide a comprehensive report of the BNMCC. After this, Prof. Dr Nuzhat Praveen Khan, Dean, School of Law, Bennett University, and Dr Prabhu Kumar Aggrawal, Vice-Chancellor, Bennett University addressed the audience.
17:00 pm: Hon’ble Justice Indira Bannerjee, Justice of the Supreme Court of India, expressed gratitude for the chance to be present today. As stated in the preamble to the Indian Constitution, the best decisions are made when good legal assistants are accessible. Unfortunately, the law was a fairly neglected field of study a few decades ago. However, it is currently a highly sought-after career. She then explained what a moot court is and how it works. She admired the choice of the Moot theme and its current relevance. The development of civilization resulted in the evolution of the concept of cash. Cryptocurrency is an intangible digital currency. It exists in the digital world and through computer networks. It is beyond the reach of the government. She talked about her time as a Moot Court Judge. And she candidly admitted that as a law student, she would not have been able to answer such challenging questions posed by the judges to the participants. She concluded the event by stating –
“Good judgements come from good arguments by good lawyers”
17:40 pm: Snr. Adv. Atmaram Nadkarni addressed the audience and highlighted the importance of the physical demeanour of a lawyer in the Courtroom. He said that the concept of cryptocurrency is quite a new concept all around the globe and the legalities surrounding it are yet to be explored by governmental and judicial institutions. He congratulated the Moot Court Committee, School of Law, Bennett University for successfully organising the event.
17:50 pm: Prof. Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma stated that it was a learning opportunity for him too as he learnt how to put up questions along with fellow brother judges. He also emphasised Moot court being conducted in other Indian Languages to give it a true colour of India and give an opportunity for students to progress.
17:55 pm: Prof Dr Farooq Ahmad Mir thanked Bennett University for the chance and praised the matter for being explored and discussed not just nationally but also internationally. According to the finance minister, the country is not now ready for this, but digital currency may be recognised in the future. He also claimed that, however, we must be positive because more and more individuals are becoming interested in bitcoin.
18:10pm: Winners of the IV Bennett National Moot Court Competition were declared –
- Winning Team – Vivekananda Institute for Professional Studies
- Runner Up – UILS Punjab University
- Best Speaker (Male) – Pritthish Roy, Vivekananda Institute for Professional Studies
- Best Speaker (Female) – Ananya Konur, IFIM Law School
- Best Memorial (Petitioner and Respondents) – Symbiosis Law School, Pune
- Best Researcher (Male) – Shubham Bhati, University Five Year Law College, Jaipur
- Best Researcher (Female) – Shivani Jha, Sharada University; Bhawna Mangla, University School of Law and Legal Studies, GGSIPU; Akansha Trivedi, Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law
The ceremony was concluded by Mr Anubhav Lamba and Ms. Riya Kharab, by giving vote of thanks to all the dignitaries and participants present in the ceremony.