Bitcoin is Illegal… says NASSCOM chief

In a significant development, Hindu has reported that that the Nasscom President Debjani Ghosh has stated that from Nasscom perspective it was very clear that crypto currencies were illegal.

Some peopleĀ  refuse to see the writing on the wall mostly because it hurts them directly. Just because we wish so, Bitcoin (or any other Crypto Currency) cannot become a legal tender and replace INR as many may wish. Neither the Nasscom, nor the RBI nor the Finance Ministry can change the law unilaterally.

The undersigned was the first person in India way back in 2013 who declared that Bitcoin should be treated as a “Commodity” and it is recognized as an electronic document under ITA 2000/8. But this does not make it eligible to be a Currency replacement for INR.

The word “Crypto” can be associated with a “Commodity” and we can call something a “Crypto commodity”. But it cannot be associated with the word “Currency”. The moment we do, it becomes an illegal commodity.

In the early days of Bitcoin in India, I have tried to convince the Bitcoin promoters including people like Sathvik to find a way by which we can have a “Cyber Law Compliant Crypto currency”. But every body said that the very foundation of Bitcoin is its “Anonymity” and refused to listen. Even about an year back when I happened to meet Mr Sathvik in Bangalore, I had hinted that Bitcoin has become a Digital Black Money and has no future.

But, as we could see even after the arrest of Mr Harish, Sathvik continued to give statements as if all of us were wrong and he alone was right. He was carried away in the rhetoric “What is not legal is not necessarily not illegal”. But Bitcoin was illegal from many perspectives and opening an ATM and announcing a plan to set up similar ATMs elsewhere in India catering to 30 different Crypto currencies etc was height of arrogance.

Perhaps he did not bargain for one honest Police officer to take note of this and act in a manner which they are expected to do.

It is shameful that now there are several supporters of Bitcoin who have come up to criticize the Police for their prompt action, even while I would like the FIR to be hardened further.

When Mr Abhinav Srivatsava was arrested last year for an Aadhaar related complaint, I was the only person who jumped to say that the arrest should not have taken place etc.. But the current case is different. It is not that a 32 year old Tumkur based engineer from a middleclass family made a successful entry to the IT world and is now in trouble. If it was only that, he would have had even my sympathies. But it is whether the Crypto Currency should be rooted out from India or not.

I am strongly for eliminating all Crypto Currencies like Bitcoin (Currencies not issued by the authorities like RBI) and therefore I am happy about the action taken so far.

I am aware that there are many who would support Mr Sathvik not because they love him but because they love Bitcoin since it helps them keep their black money more efficiently than in bundles of Rs 2000/- currency notes.

I would not be surprised if they continue to support Bitcoin and try to run down the Police. The first indication of such an attempt would be visible if the current IO is changed. I hope it would not happen.

In this context the words of wisdom from Nasscom President should seal the controversy once for all.

With apologies to all my friends who are feeling uncomfortable with the developments and the stand that I have personally taken in this regard.


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