Aadhaar is not mandatory for mobile SIM verification in India

Telecom subscribers will finally get some relief from the nagging of telcos to link Aadhaar number with their SIM card as the government has issued instructions for all the telecom operators to accept alternative methods of identification such as driving license, passport, voter ID card, among others.

According to a Times of India report, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that telecom operators have been asked to follow the instruction with immediate effect.

According to a report, telcos had been sending SMS/emails to their subscribers to link their Aadhaar number with their SIM cards, either while issuing a new SIM or for reverification purposes. Additionally, customers who wanted to port their numbers were also denied services on not producing an Aadhaar number.

This comes after the Supreme Court had recently clarified its stand regarding the matter when senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi on Day 33 of Aadhaar hearings said that SC in the Lokniti Foundation case on 6 February 2017 had made it compulsory to link Aadhaar number with SIM cards. To this, the Bench replied that it did not mandate re-verification or linking of the Aadhaar card. It had asked for verification to conducted within a year, with Aadhaar number as just one of the means of authentication. The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) misinterpreted this order. It interpreted the verification to be through Aadhaar card only.

Following SC’s clarification, the telcos in their defence said that they were merely following the telecom commission’s guidelines which had made the linking mandatory. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Director General Rajan S Mathews, in defence of telcos had said that that the SC had extended the deadline indefinitely and not revoked the order. Therefore, the telcos would continue to urge subscribers to link the Aadhaar card with the mobile numbers. He had also said that the telcos were merely following the telecom commission’s guidelines.

Since the telecom commission has revoked its previous instructions of Aadhaar-SIM linking, subscribers can now breathe a sigh of relief.

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