The government in its first terse statement on cryptocurrencies in Parliament said there was no move to recognise Bitcoin as a currency.

“No, sir,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in the Lok Sabha on Monday. She was replying to a question in the Lok Sabha on whether there is a proposal to recognise the virtual currency.

The Modi government plans to introduce the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2021 in the Winter session which began on Monday.

Sitharaman also informed the House that the government does not collect data on bitcoin transactions. However, the government gave no indication about whether it would allow crypto transactions – and if so, in what form.

In response to a separate question on whether the government has any proposal to introduce central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the country, junior finance minister Pankaj Chaudhary said that a proposal from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was received in October 2021.

Chaudhary added that the proposal was to amend the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 to enhance the scope of the definition of “bank note” to include currency in digital form.

“RBI has been examining use cases and working out a phased implementation strategy for the introduction of CBDC with little or no disruption,” Chaudhury said.

“Introduction of CBDC has the potential to provide significant benefits, such as reduced dependency on cash, higher seigniorage due to lower transaction costs, reduced settlement risk. Introduction of CBDC would also possibly lead to a more robust, efficient, trusted, regulated and legal tender-based payments option,” Chaudhary said..

Bill status

The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Union government to apprise it on January 17, 2022 about the introduction of the bill on cryptocurrency and what further action has been taken on the issue.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik said it cannot direct the parliamentary legislation to enact a law.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Aditya Kadam, seeking directions to the central government to formulate laws to govern the use and trade of cryptocurrency within the country.

Kadam said the unregulated business of cryptocurrency in the country affects the rights of the investors as there is no mechanism in law to redress their grievances.



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