India Reportedly Proposes 10-Years In Prison For Holding Bitcoin

Well, India obviously feels it has something to prove. Purportedly, its latest draft bill on bitcoin and cryptocurrency is the most draconian yet.

[Editor’s note: This Bloomberg article source is currently unverified and should be considered to be a rumor.]

The ‘Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency’ Bill, has more than just a snappy title. According to BloombergQuint, it also wants to criminalize anyone in the Bitcoin or cryptocurrency ecosystem.

More Jail Time For Holding Bitcoin Than Heroin

The bill proposes a prison sentence of one to ten years for persons who “mine, generate, hold, sell, transfer, dispose of, issue or deal in cryptocurrencies, directly or indirectly.”

Reserve Bank of India (RBI)

On top of this, offenders will be fined an amount equal to the greater of three times the gain from the cryptocurrency or three times the loss to the system.

This would make it worse to carry bitcoin than class-A drugs, which in India warrants a measly 6-month imprisonment and/or a 10,000 Rupee fine. 10 years pits bitcoin usage as a crime with a roughly equivalent level of seriousness to human trafficking.

Actual sentences will be determined according to four criteria: culpability, actual and intended gain/loss, repetitive nature, and harm to the system.

It’s Not All Bad News For Indian Cryptocurrency Fans

You see the “Regulation of Official Digital Currency” bit of the title? Well, that refers to the potential plans to launch a ‘Digital Rupee’. This would of course, not fall within the ‘Banned Cryptocurrencies’ banner.

Yeah, we know… meh.

Bill Likely To Have The Opposite Of Its Desired Effect

Hmmm… we don’t want the populace to use this new-fangled Bitcoin or cryptocurrency thing. Let’s very loudly and publicly ban it with a completely overblown punishment for the flaunting of said ban.

Yep. That’s certainly not going to raise Bitcoin awareness and interest, is it?

It is almost like Brad Sherman’s ‘Bitcoin can break us‘ bill. Not that the Indian Rupee is the world’s reserve currency, or anywhere close. But if they’re that worried about it then it must be pretty good.

If passed (and even if not), the bill may have an inadvertent adverse effect on tourism. After all, I would want to risk 10-years in jail for having a wallet app on my phone. And I certainly don’t want to delete them all just to go to India. And I like India.

India’s Never-Ending Cryptocurrency Rollercoaster

This is just the latest chapter of India’s will-they won’t-they ban it saga in relation to cryptocurrency.

We’ve known that the country has been considering a cryptocurrency ban for some time. But just last month, the CEO of exiled-from-India Zebpay was telling all and sundry that a ban was ‘very unlikely‘.

In the meantime, all the local talent has gone to work for the other team while some Indians have already stated that they don’t care about any ban if it indeed becomes a reality.

“I’m from India and I will hold, buy but not sell bitcoin. I don’t care what the gov. decides. I want to accumulate more bitcoin,” one online commentator wrote.

Will India ban and criminalize bitcoin? Share your thoughts below!

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