On November 14, 2017, local sources reported that three justices of the Supreme Court of India issued a notice to the ministries of Finance, Law and Justice, Information Technology, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and the Reserve Bank of India. Chief Justice Dipak Misra was joined by Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud in calling for a governmental response to a petition for bitcoin regulation. The justices additionally requested answers from the Income Tax Department and Enforcement Directorate.
Filed by advocate Pasupati Nath Razdan in March 2017, the petition explains, “It is submitted that certain countries have made Bitcoin (crypto money) subject to their respective tax regimes, while a few other countries have designated it as a commodity, thereby making Bitcoin (crypto money) subject to government regulation and accountable to exchequer but no such mechanism exists in India [to] date.”
The document continues, “At present, the Reserve Bank of India regards cryptocurrencies as a violation of the country’s existing foreign exchange norms. This is because the conversion of Bitcoins into foreign exchange does not currently fall under the purview of the central banking institution making such transactions highly unsafe and vulnerable to cyberattacks.”
The petition touches on a wide range of global developments and perspectives, from China’s ban on token offerings to statements from John McAfee and Jamie Dimon. It also provides details about the June 2015 shutdown of bitcoin exchange BTCX India among newer projects.
Over the last few months, conflicting reports have emerged from India about the government’s interest in digitizing the rupee. Most recently, in October 2017, the country’s chief economic advisor said that the Indian government would not issue cryptocurrency.