India: ‘Draft bill’ real or fake? Leaked legal documents are as authentic as Monopoly moneyJune 14, 2019
India’s battle against cryptocurrencies took a new turn after pictures of a “proposed” bill circulated on social media. However, it was rejected by various prominent publications and personalities in the crypto-circle, due to its lack of authenticity.
And that is how a bill becomes a law…
If for a moment we believe that the pictures circulated were indeed a part of the ‘draft bill’ on cryptocurrencies, it does not give it the status of law. This bill, after formulation by the committee spearheaded by Subhash Chandra Garg, must be passed on to the Finance Minister, who will then take it to the Parliament for further debate and discussions. Only after this bill is sanctioned by both houses of the parliament, will it reach the President for his final assent. It is then, that the bill will become a law.
According to a recent report, the draft is ready to be presented to the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. Following her approval, the bill will be presented to the parliament. AMBCrypto spoke to a prominent crypto advocate and co-founder of Crypto Kanoon, Mohammed Danish, who also had reservations about the looks of the document in question. He commented,
“I would have believed the authenticity of the bill if there was some proof on the document like a seal or a mark from the Department of Economic affair, however, there is nothing.”
Despite the fact that Danish noted that the language used in the document was in line with other legal documents, he added that there was no way to identify it as a part of the bill before the committee. He further noted that since the bill was under consideration and discussion, it cannot be made public in any way. Danish cited the example of an Indian crypto-journalist who had filed an RTI [Right to Information] for this very bill, but was denied a reply under the Section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act which states,
“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,—cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers:
Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over:”
The advocate circled back to the authenticity of these papers and the means by which the person who reported it got the draft. Ever since India was introduced to the concept of crypto, government officials and ministers have spoken about its benefits and future plans. None of the official statements from the government can be said to have expressed any intention to ban it, Danish pointed out that,
“Various publications have covered this news regarding the bill, has any publication named any credible source or an identified Govt. official with a negative view towards Crypto? No! It is always the anonymous sources who have been quoted for any news on banning crypto.”
He further added,
“If the Government had anything negative about Crypto, why would the Ministry not come forward and say it publicly? What is the reason to conceal their intention? After all, they are performing their duty!”
Law of the jungle
The crypto bill does not ask for a blanket crypto-ban and outlines offenses pertaining to the use of crypto for money laundering and other financial frauds. If the bill that seeks a “blanket ban on crypto” is passed by the Parliament then, not only is it not helping small-time investors and traders, it is instead helping ill-players and scammers. For instance,
A scammer scamming people on the web does not have to worry about banks shutting their accounts like small-time investors. If these investors fall prey to these scams, they would not be able to approach the authorities due to a blanket ban. This will contribute to the criminals being given a clean chit and criminalizing small-time traders and investors.
The government might not be able to remove all traces of crypto from the web. As history suggests [porn, torrents, marijuana etc.], a ban on anything usually leads to the creation of several parallel illegal markets. However, that does not mean the government should stop drafting laws that may help protect the interests of investors who may be at risk from such scammers.
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