India Struggles To Define Bitcoin Legality

The conflict within Indian politics and struggle to define bitcoin’s future continues. This Tuesday March 28, Indian Economic Times reported Minister of Finance, Arjun Ram Meghwal’s address to parliament. His remarks hint at the potential consequences for someone using the cryptocurrency: “The absence of counter parties in usage of virtual currencies including Bitcoins, for illicit and illegal activities in anonymous/pseudonymous systems could subject the users to unintentional breaches of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism laws” However, this doesn’t mean bitcoin is illegal in India, but it does fall in a gray area. Politicians are struggling to pass specific legislation to regulate bitcoin do to the fast evolving nature of the digital currency.

Concern of the cryptocurrency aiding in illegal activities is growing and the police recently busted a drug operation that used bitcoin as a part of its payment process. On March 30 the Times of India reported on the matter, saying, “The anti-narcotics cell of the city police arrested five people, including two students of two reputed colleges in the western suburbs, for drug trafficking and recovered psychedelic drug LSD worth Rs 70 lakh (about 7 million dollars) on Wednesday.”

Regardless of the misuse of bitcoin it is not illegal in India. And, despite the Prime Minister’s vague warnings the cryptocurrency can be used freely.

These attempts to make the currency illegal have fallen short even with the warnings and fear mongering. As H.L. Mencken put it, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

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