Bar & Bench - Indian Lega India
Bar & Bench - Indian Legal News
WhatsApp before Supreme Court: Who is Sahil Baghla, a bitcoin scam accused? The curious case of Good Governance Chambers and Law Juno - Bar & Bench - Indian Legal News
In its reply, WhatsApp has urged that the Court inquire into the credentials of the think tank, "Good Governance Chambers" and its motivation in filing the PIL against WhatsApp Pay, a pilot mobile payments project by FB.
In a reply filed this week through WhatsApp's Director & Associate General Counsel, Brian Hennessy, it is asserted that the digital payment feature of WhatsApp pay has been subjected to intense regulatory scrutiny and oversight by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is also noted that the payment feature has been under review by the Supreme court since July 2018 in the case of Centre for Accountability an Systemic Change v. UOI. It adds that over a two year period, WhatsApp has worked diligently to meet the conditions to launch the full release version of WhatsApp Pay. As such, it contended that there is no occasion for any "busybody" to intervene at this stage to superimpose their views in this process. Inquire first into motivation of Good Governance Chambers, urges WhatsApp Concerns have been raised over the credentials and motivations of one of the petitioners in the pending PIL, i.e. Good Governance Chambers (GGC). WhatsApp's reply states that the think tank has given vague objectives for its functioning, with little to no information on the public domain to substantiate these claims. The think tank appears to have been formed only recently, states the reply, as guaged from the recent registration of its website. The reply goes on to refer to certain links found between GGC, the Law Firm Law Juno representing them, a complaint before the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against WhatsApp Pay and a man reported to have been implicated in $300 million worth Bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme, Sahil Baghla. In this regard, the reply details the following. On the apparent link between the GGC and their lawyers, Law Juno
- The Good Governance Chambers website was registered on the same date that the petitioners law firm, Law Juno was registered.
- Both websites were registered barely a month before filing the PIL.
- The Petitioners Twitter page was created in February 2020, with its first tweet dated February 13, 2020, two weeks before filing the petition.
- The Petitioners Facebook page was created on March 29, 2020, one month after filing the Petition.
- A complaint was filed to stop WhatsApp pay by one, Mrs. Harshita Chawla on March 19, 2020, shortly after the Petition was filed.
- The CCI complaint is also directed against WhatsApp and Facebook Inc. and seeks the same core relief (stopping the launch of WhatsApp Pay) based on the same core facts.
- The address provided in this complaint is identical to that of the petitioner.
- Both the CCI complaint and the Supreme Court Petition were drawn by the same advocate, Suneha Jain.
- The petition and the CCI complaint indicates that the advocate is a member of the Law firm, Law Juno.
- According to Law Junos website, the firm shared the same address with the Petitioner and the CCI complainant up until at least May 18, 2020. The website was only recently amended to reflect a new address for Law Juno.
- One, Sahil Baghla was recently incarcerated in connection with allegations of serious criminal activity, i.e. being involved in a 300 million worth Bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme.
- The Petitioners domain name (www.g2chambers.org) was registered using the alias Half Monk with a phone traceable (according to a Truecaller search) to an individual named Mr Sahila Baghla.
- The domain name of the Petitioners law firm (www.lawjuno.com) was registered with the alias Half Monk and with the same phone number that registered Petitioners domain name i.e., it is traceable to an individual named Sahil Baghla.
- On LinkedIn, an individual named Sahil Baghla identifies Law Juno as his employer, and is listed as the job poster for a legal researcher position with Petitioner.
- According to Law Junos website, the firm until recently shared the same address with the Petitioner.
- Facebook page of an individual named Sahil Baghla contains posts that appear to promote the Petitioner.