According to a Report by New Indian Express on December 26, 2018, ownership and usage of Bitcoin could soon become legalized in India. This suggests that India will soon legalize Bitcoin. The Report came when it was learnt that the Second Interdisciplinary Committee appointed to vote on the legality of cryptocurrencies is in favor of of legalizing it.
India parades itself as the country with the second largest number of crypto and blockchain experts, after the United States. Despite the fact, cryptocurrencies are still largely frowned upon by the country’s financial regulators.
Back in March 2017, the Indian government set up an Interdisciplinary Committee charged with the responsibility of determining the legality of Bitcoin. The committee was headed by the now retired special secretary Dinesh Sharma with members drawn from various government ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) such as the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT), Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the Reserve Bank of India, NITI Aayog and SBI.
Four months later, in July 2017, after much deliberation, the Interdisciplinary Committee recommended a total ban on all cryptocurrencies in India with immediate effect. The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, supported by the entire Ministry of Finance, echoed the sentiment during his budget speech in February 2018.
The development attracted criticisms from different stakeholders in the country. As more and more stakeholders began challengeing the RBI fiat in the Supreme Court, a Second Interdisciplinary Committee was set up to resolve the issues.
From the look of things the legal status of cryptocurrencies in India could soon change because of the stance of the Second Interdisciplinary Committee. According to Btcmanager, the new committee, led by the Department of Economic Affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, is expected to have a much more favorable stance when it comes to cryptocurrencies, which is a move both the regulators and the crypto community welcome.
A senior official who attended the panel told the New Indian Express that there was a consensus among the members that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. The next meeting is scheduled for January 2019, but the anonymous official said that the committee would most likely submit its final report to the finance ministry as early as February 2019. Thus, Bitcoin’s legal status in India is expected to be resolved as early as February 2019.
“We have also taken inputs from cryptocurrency exchanges and experts and will be examining legal issues with the law ministry. It’s a complicated issue. Once all aspects are decided, then we will have more clarity,” the official added.