The Government of India could soon decide upon the future of Bitcoin businesses in India. Following a slew of recent news reports quoting a member of parliament calling Bitcoin a “Ponzi scheme” and requesting the finance ministry to ban the cryptocurrency in the country, an inter-ministerial committee has been set up, to discuss the legality of cryptocurrencies.
News carried by few Indian media outlets, days after raising concerns among the Bitcoin community members, state that the committee will be filing its official response regarding the legality of cryptocurrencies in India on April 20, 2017.
At the same time, the Bitcoin community in India along with the country’s cryptocurrency business association — Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India have started an online petition urging the inter-ministerial committee to instate a legal status for the digital currency. The online petition addressed to the country’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, The Governor of Reserve Bank of India Urjit Patel, and the Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Finance Selvakumar has received over 12,000 signatures so far.
While speculating the outcome of the inter-ministerial committee’s report, some believe that it might take much longer or them to come to a conclusion regarding the cryptocurrency’s legality. However, in a worst-case scenario, if the committee and in turn the government indeed declares Bitcoin illegal, then it might force the country’s cryptocurrency businesses to rethink their products and service offerings or close doors.
Clearing the air about the recent statements made by politicians and the potential outcome of the government’s proceedings, Jaideep Reddy — a technology lawyer representing Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India said,
“The Minister of State’s statement in the Rajya Sabha seems to have been widely misinterpreted. He only indicated that the use of virtual currency for illegal purposes is illegal, and not that bitcoin per se is illegal… It is not likely that the government, in promoting technology, innovation, and financial inclusion, will resort to a knee-jerk ban of bitcoin as such. No major economy has done this. However, if there is a ban, all parties will have to comply with the same, subject to their remedies under law.”
He was referring to the Minister of State for Finance, Arjun Ram Meghwal, who had earlier stated that the RBI doesn’t authorize virtual currencies like Bitcoin and its usage could potentially result in the breach of anti-money laundering provisions.
It will be two tense weeks for the Indian cryptocurrency community has they await the decision of the committee and resulting laws which might follow.
Ref: MoneyControl | Change.org | Image: NewsBTC