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India digital currency bill still ‘awaiting approval’

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India’s digital currency industry will have to wait longer to know its fate, as the bill that seeks to ban digital currencies is still reportedly “awaiting approval.” In its first official revelation regarding the future of digital currencies, the government said it has set up an inter-ministerial committee that is examining the bill.

The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) made the revelation while responding to a Right to Information (RTI) request. The request was submitted by Mohammed Danish, a digital currency lawyer who is also the founder of Crypto Kanoon.

In its reply, the DEA stated, “The government has set up inter-ministerial committee (IMC) for examining the issues of cryptocurrencies under the chairmanship of Secretary (EA). The report of the IMC on VCs [virtual currencies] has since been submitted by its members, but is awaiting approval of the government.”

Through an inter-ministerial consultation, the government will examine the report and the bill “by moving a cabinet note in due course,” the DEA added.

In an interview with an Indian digital currency news outlet, Danish said the lengthy examination period indicates that the concerned ministries aren’t satisfied with the bill. While this could lead to a few changes that could favor the industry, the lawyer believes that it will still culminate in a blanket ban on digital currencies.

The bill, known as “Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019,” was drafted by an inter-ministerial committee last year. It seeks to ban the use of digital currencies in India, recommending a jail term of up to five years and three times the gains made by a digital currency user in fines.

If the bill sails through in its current form, Danish believes that no sector in the digital currency industry in India will survive.

He stated, “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 and providing exchange services.”

The digital currency industry has pleaded with the government to take a more lenient approach, calling for consultation between the stakeholders to chart a way forward. Sumit Gupta, the CEO of digital currency exchange CoinDCX has been one of the most vocal advocates for enabling regulations.

“Smart and sensible crypto regulations are the right way forward,” he told CoinGeek in an interview in June.

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