An Indian lawyer has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to force action on the regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country.
Bivas Chatterjee, a Kolkata-based advocate who also serves as the state government's nodal officer for cyber crime cases, filed the PIL at the city's high court Friday, demanding a legal framework for cryptocurrencies in India. In his petition, the lawyer said that rules are required since cryptocurrencies have been linked to money laundering, drug trafficking and other illegal activities on the dark web.
According to the Times of India, the filing comes in the wake of the arrest of two youths in Kolkata last month by country's Narcotics Control Bureau for procuring and selling drugs through the dark web using bitcoin.
Chatterjee pointed out that the economic impact of "decentralised, unregulated and unaccounted parallel economic system" is vast, alleging that cryptocurrencies are used to fund money laundering, terrorism activities and tax evasion.
The petition states:
"There is an urgent need to frame a joint panel or a group of committees with experts from various fields to ensure the legality and accountability of cryptocurrency."
He added that the "absence of controlling authorities" has also led to the recent "upheaval" in the prices of cryptocurrencies.
Chatterjee argued that the government should either ban bitcoin or form a regulatory body to control the market, the Indian Express reports.
The high court is reportedly expected to hear the case on Feb. 2.
In April 2017, a committee of government and central bank officials in the country came up with a plan to consider new regulations related to digital currencies. The committee prepared a report that put forward policies related to money laundering and consumer protection.
Later, in November, the country's supreme court asked the government to respond to calls to regulate bitcoin.
Recently, India's finance minister, Arun Jaitley, clarified that the government does not recognize bitcoin as legal tender. However, he noted that "recommendations are being worked at" to regulate the cryptocurrency.
Calcutta High Court image via Shutterstock