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Breaking: India’s Crypto Regulation Report in Finalisation Stage, Confirms RTI

  • On December 07, 2018 – CNBC TV18 reported “Govt Panel recommends complete ban on crypto”
  • Sensing incorrect information, Coin Crunch India soon filed an RTI with Department of Economic Affairs to get more details.
  • After filing an appeal for no response in 5 weeks, today, after 6 weeks, the RTI was answered.
  • No details on the report were shared and reason given is “The report of the Committee is under finalization stage”

Welcome to another edition of Coin Crunch India’s busting fake news from anonymous sources on mainstream media with patience, perseverance and research. That’s a thing I just made up.

I can tell you several instances when mainstream media and even alternate media relayed information from anonymous sources that turned out to be entirely bogus. However, when it comes to cryptocurrency, there are only two important breaking news.

  1. India to Ban crypto
  2. India to Regulate Crypto

Every Mainstream media news articles revolve around either one or both the above lines. So every time they publish such news, we sit and try to get more details from trustworthy sources.

We did the same thing and after waiting 6 weeks we have a very reliable response. Although RTI responses can also be debated, but let us go with the understanding that RTI responses are much better than tips from anonymous sources.

Fake News: Panel Submits Report and Recommends Ban on Crypto

On the fateful day of December 7, 2018, one of India’s prominent Business News Channel CNBCTV18 reported

“The Government Panel on Cryptocurrencies has submitted its report to the Finance minister…. The panel has categorically said that all such currencies should be treated as ‘illegal,”

CNBC TV18

The news actually went unnoticed for a couple days and later blew out as other media outlets began citing CNBCTV18 and reporting it. A quick google search will reveal Indiatimes, Bitcoin.com, Crypto-News India, Cointelegraph, and a lot of other blockchain and media platforms reported it.

Kevin Helms from Bitcoin.com included my comments on their report. I categorically pointed out that comments are from anonymous sources.

Coin Crunch Files an RTI

Ranting on social media about the unverified news that mainstream media push has turned out to be useless. Neither they correct it nor they acknowledge the reader/viewer’s voice. The best way to fight the FUD is to get the answer from the horse’s mouth.

After receiving no comments from DEA secretary Subhash Chandra Garg’s office, we went for Right to Information. On December 13, 2018 we filed an RTI application to Department of Economic Affairs asking three questions

  1. Has the Panel submitted the report to Ministry of Finance?
  2. Has the panel recommended a ban on Bitcoin?
  3. We would like to receive a copy of the report. Can we?

An RTI is usually responded to within 4 weeks. We waited. When we received no response until January 20, 2019 – 5 weeks, we filed an Appeal for “No Response”. 

We kept the appeal pretty simple, which at press time is still pending.

“We haven’t received the answer on the RTI after 5 weeks. Please respond.”

First Appeal for No Response on RTI application filed by Coin Crunch India

RTI Response: Report in Finalisation Stage, No Other Answers

The officer who responded to our RTI application must have had a busy day. We received a one liner answer.

“The report of the Committee is under finalization stage, hence, prohibited under section 8(3) of RTI Act, 2005.”

Response to RTI Application

Section 8 of the RBI act allows an entity to withhold the data in certain circumstances. Specifically applicable to this case is Section 8(1)(i) or Section 8(3).

“cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed;”

Section 8(1)(i) of RTI Act, 2005

Since the report is in deliberation stage, they can withhold the information. They will likely make the decisions public eventually.

Crypto Talks in Parliament Negated CNBCTV18 report already

Just as 2018 was coming to an end, few questions regarding cryptocurrencies were answered in the Loksabha – the lower house of India’s parliament. One of them clarified that there is no timeline for crypto regulations while the Garg Committee is working on it with “due caution”

Pon. Radhakrishnan, the minister of state in the Ministry of Finance answered questions related to regulations and monitoring of cryptocurrencies in India.

The comments on Parliamentary questions had already negated CNBCTV18’s report. However, it was never corrected or even acknowledged by the media house.

That is why we decided to post this article as well. RTI based journalism is not sensational, won’t get Millions of views, but it will be factual. I insist, DYOR, or ask questions to those who publish the news. Also, if you like our fair journalism, support it with a small donation.

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