After temporarily breaking the ice on bitcoin regulations, the Indian government is doubling down its efforts to restrain cryptocurrency use. A new bill on the way could place cryptocurrency holders and miners at risk of fines and possible jail time.
New Indian Anti-Bitcoin Bill On the Cards
A fresh Reuters report claims that India is preparing a new heavy-handed anti-bitcoin bill. Previous regulations in the country targeted the use of private coins, but the new bill will outrightly criminalize ownership of cryptocurrencies. This means that one can face serious penalties for simply owning bitcoin or any other digital asset. It doesn’t stop there. The supposed bill aims to further crackdown on cryptocurrency use by abolishing mining and trading.
It remains unclear what penalties the law will mete out to defaulters, but sanctions may include fines or even jail time. An anonymous senior government official disclosed the information to Reuters, stating that the bill was in the picture and undergoing deliberation. He further revealed that the government might grant a window period of six months to miners and traders to cease operations and liquidate their positions before the law takes full swing.
Harsh as it may seem, a jail term is highly conceivable and has been in consideration since 2019. BloombergQuint disclosed in an exclusive report that the country’s lawmakers were mulling over a plausible one to ten years jail term for owning, mining, or transferring cryptocurrencies.
A Step Forward, Two Backwards
The revelation is a colossal blow to the Indian cryptocurrency community, which recently heaved a sigh of relief following welcoming remarks made by the country’s Finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. She told CNBC in a virtual interview last month that the country will be receptive towards advancements in the industry.
“A lot of negotiations and discussions are happening around the cryptocurrency with the Reserve Bank of India. RBI will be taking a call on what kind of unofficial cryptocurrency will have to be planned and how it has to be regulated. However, we want to make sure that there is a window available for all kinds of experiments which will have to take place in the crypto world.”
The massive disparity between her comments and the alleged details of the new bill stirs questions begging for answers. What transpired since then is unascertained but also unsurprising, as the country is renowned for controversial cryptocurrency policies.
The Indian cryptocurrency stakeholders had successfully fended off strict anti-bitcoin regulations through successful on and offline campaigns tagged #IndiaWantsCrypto, but new reports have short-lived the joy. This may signal the need to regroup and go harder.