An Indian politician who has previously raised his concerns on the growth of bitcoin in the country has, once again, urged the Indian government to weigh in on the cryptocurrency’s legality. More pointedly, the bitcoin critic is urging the Indian government to deem the cryptocurrency illegal.
Kirit Somaiya, a member of the Indian Parliament who belongs to the BJP, India’s conservative ruling party at the center, questioned if bitcoin is a ‘pyramid ponzi scheme’ during a session of the Indian parliament on March 24. At the time, the politician cited unnamed experts to base his concerns of the world’s largest cryptocurrency – now a legal method of payment in Japan – being a pyramid scheme and called for Indian financial authorities to regulate bitcoin.
In response, the Union Minister of State if Finance revealed a written reply to Somaiya, one that triggered much of the Indian media to falsely report that bitcoin was deemed illegal by the government.
A local report has since surfaced pointing to the formation of an ‘inter-ministerial’ committee installed by the Indian Parliament to study the legality of the popular cryptocurrency. It is speculated that the committee is tasked to give an initial announcement about its findings on April 20.
However, not content with these developments, Somaiya has once again raised his issue with bitcoin in India in the parliament on Wednesday afternoon. The bitcoin critic spoke during the ‘zero hour’, a session that starts at 12 noon wherein members of parliament are allowed to raise important subjects in the house.
In the Lok Sabha (the Lower house of the Indian parliament) session today, Somaiya opined that bitcoin was growing ‘without any restrictions’ in the “name of blockchain” technology. Unlike earlier, however, the politician has matter-of-factly stated that bitcoin is ‘illegal’ as a parallel currency. He then urged the government to ban bitcoin immediately, before drafting regulations for the industry.
Somaiya’s translated statements read:
Bitcoin trading worth ₹2000 crores (approx. $300 million, a day) has been initiated. This can also be used in underworld trading. Last week some students were caught dealing with drugs and LSD. In the name of block chain and crypto currency these kind of schemes are growing without any restrictions. The government has made a committee to address this. I urge them to declare this parallel currency illegal, and make rules and regulation to deal with it as soon as possible.
As it stands, the bitcoin industry remains unregulated in India with the Indian central bank issuing a public notice stating bitcoin companies in India were not recognized or approved by the authority. The notice, a rehash from December 2013, has spurred the Indian bitcoin industry to establish its own self-regulatory body and watchdog in February, one that approached Indian authorities but has yet to receive a response.
The Indian bitcoin industry has also launched a petition urging Indian lawmakers to declare the legality of bitcoin. Launched last week, the petition now sees over 10,000 signatures.
Featured image from Shutterstock.