Varun Sethi, one of the eminent blockchain lawyers in the Indian cryptocurrency community, sent in a Right to Information (RTI) to the central bank Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the state of cryptocurrency regulations in India.
The RTI was sent, following an Economic Times article, which it stated that a draft regulation, to impose ban on cryptocurrencies was being circulated among government officials. As earlier reported by Crypto-News India, the draft bill, according to ET’s report, was titled “Banning of Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019”. It was reportedly circulated to all relevant government departments. Those departments may have included Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), and Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), as all of them have suggested a complete ban on cryptocurrencies.
Sethi’s RTI asked several pertinent questions on that report. Some of the questions included, “Is there a draft bill under discussion to ban cryptocurrencies and regulate digital currencies?, please confirm if such consultations have been started within your department, and since when?, Whether RBI has sent out official communications to other department for this matter?” To the first two questions, the RBI stated that the query had been forwarded to Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) and for the last question, the central bank said no.
Citing a portion of the article which mentioned, departments listed above, has proposed complete ban, the RTI asked if the RBI has also proposed a similar blanket ban on cryptocurrencies and the answer to that was “No.”
Interestingly, the RBI,(as per its response) was not a part of the inter-ministerial meeting in which the proposed bill was drafted, to which the ET stated that it had access to.
We hd filed RTI agnst RBI rgrdg prpsd Bnnng f Crypto & Rgultin f Ofical Dgtl Crncis Bil 2019 basd on @EconomicTimes Article Apr 26, 2019
RBI is key in infrming invstrs abt Crypto risks, yet claims in this RTI that it has neither recd nor sent out any communication in this matter
— Varun | Blockchain Lawyer (@Blockchainlaw91) June 4, 2019
Between Sethi’s RTI response and the response which was sent to Coin Crunch News by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), the picture that appears before us is blurry, at best. Sethi posted a video in which he said, “Since 2013, RBI is the one government institution which has been sending preventive notifications to the general public on how risky it is to invest in cryptocurrencies. And, when it comes to drafting a bill on banning cryptocurrencies, it has neither sent or received any communication to any department on the same?”
Conclusion: While it may be too soon to draw conclusions on the contradictory statements being put forth by government bodies, is it too foolhardy to notice that there are two different narratives being peddled by those in the know? Apart from that, there are also multiple cases in the Supreme Court, pertaining to this matter. Hopefully, by the time 2019 draws to a close, we’ll have some clarity on what the real matter is.
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