A lawyer has moved the Calcutta High Court, seeking an intervention to regulate the flow of Bitcoin, a crypto currency (digital asses), in India.
A worldwide payment system, Bitcoin is a virtual asset that can be used to move money around the world quickly and with relative anonymity, without the need of a central authority, such as a bank or government.
The public interest litigation (PIL) was filed on Friday by advocate Bivas Chatterjee, who is also the state government’s nodal officer for cases related to cyber crimes. In his petition — filed in his personal capacity — Chatterjee has alleged that drug trafficking, ransomware, extortion and other unlawful activities are being facilitated by use of crypto currencies, which need to be immediately banned or regulated. The court will hear the case on February 2.
“Use of Bitcoin was maximised post demonetisation, when cashless economy was being promoted. In India, law enforcement agencies are confused… Either the government should ban Bitcoin by declaring it illegal like China or there must be a regulatory body to control its flow,” said Chatterjee, whose petition dwells at length about the future consequences of the uncontrolled flow of Bitcoin.
“When the first Bitcoin was created in 2009, it did not have any perceived value… but as on January 4, one Bitcoin is worth Rs 9.2 lakh. During the last few months, the price of Bitcoin has witnessed massive volatility, creating an apprehension in the minds of the common man that an economic scam or illegal activity is possible… which can cause an economic catastrophe, especially if everything remains uncontrolled and unregulated,” Chatterjee said.
He added that in the absence of any regulations, people are investing in crypto currencies, especially in Bitcoins, hoping that their investment will be rewarded manifold within a very short period of time.
“Crypto currencies promise fast and anonymous fund transfers at a low cost. Such transactions are really difficult to track… crypto currencies are perfect facilitators for crime. Investigating authorities are facing hurdles while probing crimes involving crypto currencies or Bitcoins because of it’s anonymity,” said Chatterjee.
“Bitcoin is India’s currency of choice for drug trafficking, arms and prostitution business… While Chinese government has already banned it and Russian courts have pronounced the transfer of crypto currency as illegal, our government is still thinking,” he added.