India is looking to crack down on cryptocurrencies once and for all by potentially introducing a new bill that could see Indian crypto users jailed for a decade.
Based on a new report by Bloomberg Quint, those who “mine, generate, hold, sell, transfer, dispose, issue or deal in cryptocurrencies directly or indirectly” will risk being jailed for 10 years, under the statues of a new bill. Not only that, but it will be considered a non-bailable offense — meaning defendants will be jailed until trial.
The news comes just hours after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) denied having any involvement in shaping what is likely the same bill rumored in April. This is despite the RBI blocking banks from offering services to users and firms dealing with cryptocurrencies in early 2018.
“This is insane,” Peter McCormack told BeInCrypto. “They are scared of losing control over the money they can’t wipe out as and when they need.”
The Message is Loud and Clear
The simple presence of the bill, whether draft or not, indicates the direction that India is looking to take with cryptocurrencies — while thoroughly dashing any hopes that favorable regulation might be on its way.
The bill was reportedly developed with oversight from a panel of members from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), under the leadership of Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg.
Along with an outright ban on non-state controlled cryptocurrencies, India has also been investigating the viability of a digital state-backed cryptocurrency backed by physical Indian Rupees (INR) — not to be confused with DigitalRs (DRS), a failed cryptocurrency project.
India: 90 Days to Get out (Or Else)
According to the draft bill, India’s criminal justice system will use a handful of parameters to determine the severity of the crime, which will then be used to lay down a fitting punishment. These are the culpability of the accused, the gains and/or losses caused by their activity, the repetitive nature of the offense, and the harm caused to the system. This information will also be used to determine whether there will be an additional fine levied, and if so, how much it will be.
Commenting on the proposal, Aaron van Wirdum from Bitcoin Magazine told BeInCrypto:
Nassim Nicholas Taleb put it very well when he said that Bitcoin’s mere existence is an insurance policy against an Orwellian future. If your government tries to ban it, there’s probably reason to be concerned.
The current iteration of the bill states that the fine will be equal to “thrice the loss caused to the system, or three-fold the gains made,” whichever is highest. If this cannot be accurately determined, then the maximum fine that can be imposed will be notified by the government. However, if the bill is enacted, cryptocurrency holders in India will be given a 90-day period from the commencement date to declare and then dispose of their digital assets to avoid facing punishment.
Finally, it should be noted that the bill remains unsubstantiated by government officials.
How do you feel about India’s moves against cryptocurrency? How do you see the situation playing out if the bill is passed into law? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!