With time running out in the current session of Parliament, the Centre is likely to push the tabling of the Bill on private cryptocurrencies and the data protection Bill to the second half of Budget Session, sources in know of the development told The Indian Express.
The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, that aims to prohibit private cryptocurrencies with some exemptions, is likely to see some changes in line with the evolving global framework and issues related to aspects of taxation and safeguards for consumers, according to the sources. Queries sent to the Finance Ministry on the issue did not elicit any response.
The Bill had been listed to be taken up for introduction, consideration and passing in the ongoing session for the purpose of creating “a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India”. It also seeks to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies, “with certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.”
Last month, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das had strongly urged caution and voiced serious concerns about cryptocurrencies on macroeconomic and financial stability. “I would only like to say that when the RBI as the central bank of the country … after due internal deliberation says that there are serious concerns on macro-economic and financial stability, there are deeper issues … I’m yet to see serious, well-informed discussion in the public space on these issues,” he had said.
In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier that month, it was noted that there was a need to acknowledge cryptocurrency and its underlying platform of blockchain as an evolving technology, and that the Centre should keep a close watch.
The two bills
The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill
For the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, though the Joint Committee of Parliament’s report is scheduled to be tabled Thursday, sources said the Bill may be pushed to the next session due to paucity of time. An official said, “It will be difficult for us to get the legal formalities completed in time. And it is an important legislation. So it is better to wait some more.”
First proposed by the government in 2018, the PDP Bill,has been pending for close to three years now. It has seen several changes to the original draft drawn by retired Supreme Court judge Justice B N Srikrishna, who also said that the revised Bill was “a blank cheque to the state”. The latest version of the Bill, in complete contrast to earlier 2018 draft, says that a committee for selection of Data Protection Authority (DPA) will include the Cabinet Secretary, the Law Secretary and the IT ministry secretary. The 2018 draft had proposed that either the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or a Supreme Court judge nominated by the CJI should chair the committee for selection of the DPA.
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