Opinion

Interview – RTI Response on Indian Crypto Ban Cabinet Note Reveals Ground Reality

Amid all chaos that surrounded crypto regulations in India, the country’s trusted crypto regulatory media platform, Crypto Kanoon filed the RTI, seeking the bottom reality of the Cabinet Note.

Noticeably, the report surfaced on the web recently stated that the cabinet note which is suggesting the crypto ban in the country has been submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC).

The RTI was filed by one of the co-founders of CryptoKanoon, Mohammed Danish. He specifically enquired, 

  • Has any cabinet note been sent for IMC (inter-ministerial consultation) on the legal framework of cryptocurrencies/virtual currencies?
  • Does this cabinet note seek inter-ministerial consultation on Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019? If not, what is the purpose of this cabinet note?
  • Does this cabinet note include any prescribed period of reply?

We Interviewed Mr.Danish to understand what does the RTI response mean for crypto regulations in India. 

Coinpedia – What’s your recent RTI means for crypto regulations in India?

Mr.Danish – On 12th June, news published in the EconomicTimes claimed that Govt. is intending to pass a law on the infamous Banning of Cryptocurrency……… Bill 2019 (Crypto Bill) and that Ministry of Finance has already moved a cabinet note for inter-ministerial consultation in this regard.

This news caused enormous confusion as the same was merely based on surmises. Therefore this RTI was primarily filed to check the veracity of this news and also to know the proposal contained in this cabinet note.

The response to this RTI revealed very crucial information about how the Govt. is looking at this entire issue. In this response, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) discloses the fact that the Banning of Cryptocurrency …….Bill, 2019 has not been approved by the Government yet.

It further says that now this Bill is to be examined by the Government through Inter-ministerial consultation. It is pertinent to explain here that the word “Government”, used by DEA in this response, refers to “Ministry of Finance” and not “Parliament” or “Cabinet Secretariat” which means that this Crypto bill does not conform to the satisfaction of the Finance Ministry.

It is however unclear and quite pre-mature to say that the Ministry of Finance will make substantial changes in this bill to reject the idea of a complete ban on Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin etc.

However, it seems that the Ministry of Finance does not want to proceed with this Crypto bill for parliamentary clearance in the present form.

Considering the aforesaid, it can be inferred that the Indian Government has not yet finalized upon its policy around Crypto regulation and is still open to suggestions which are in fact a very good sign as this reconsideration may also pave the way for Crypto friendly regulation in India.

Coinpedia – Since global regulators showing a positive stance on cryptocurrency, do you think that the Indian Govt will also follow the suit?

Mr.Danish – It is true that India has always been very calculated in regulating new technologies. Internet was made available for public use in India in 1995 but the law relating to Computers and the Internet came into force as late as in the year 2000 i.e., Information Technology Act, 2000.

The regulatory developments happening in other parts of the world are crucial in many aspects and when it comes to Crypto, this technology gives very little discretion or the option to the lawmakers.

As Andreas says, “You cannot ban bitcoin in your country, you can only ban your country out of Bitcoin.” 

Therefore I believe that in this age of globalization, it is hard to believe that any country can afford to isolate itself from the entire world.

Coinpedia – If there’s a crypto ban in India (as recently suggested in a cabinet note), which sector of the crypto industry will be majorly affected in India?

Mr.Danish – The present bill contemplates a blanket ban on everything related to Cryptocurrencies. If this bill is converted into law in the present form, then no sector can survive.

 It prescribes punishments for every activity from mining, holding, advertising, promoting, buying, selling to providing exchange services.

Coinpedia: What’s your advice for the ‘Indian crypto industry’ if Govt bans crypto in India?

Mr.Danish – If the Govt. decides to pass a law banning Crypto, this law can be challenged by Crypto business, traders, or enthusiasts based on various rights available to them under the Constitution. 

They can challenge this law before the Supreme Court under Article 32 and before High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution.

Thank you Mr.Danish, we hope that Indian regulators should follow the positive move towards regulating virtual currencies in India.

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Qadir AK

Qadir Ak is the founder of Coinpedia. He has over a decade of experience writing about technology and has been covering the blockchain and cryptocurrency space since 2010. He has also interviewed a few prominent experts within the cryptocurrency space.

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