In what comes as a major relief for consumers who are struggling to get a mobile phone SIM without an Aadhaar card, the government has issued clear instructions to operators asking them to accept alternate documents such as driving license, passport, and voter ID card for providing new connections. The government has asked the mobile companies to follow the instructions immediately, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told TOI. Sundararajan said that ministry has asked the operators to accept other forms of KYC (know your customer) documents, and continue to issue SIM cards.
“The ministry has issued instructions to all telecom companies, asking them not to deny a SIM card to any individual who does not have an Aadhaar number. We have asked them to accept other forms of KYC (know your customer) documents, and continue to issue SIM cards,” she was quoted as saying.
The move comes after several cases of people being denied a SIM because they didn’t have an Aadhaar card were reported. The cases were not limited to Indians as a lot of NIRs and foreigners visiting the country also had to face difficulties.
Earlier, on April 27, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that there are at least two existing Supreme Court orders on the linking of Aadhaar and mobile phone numbers.
“There are at least two Supreme Court orders and one of them is by Hon’ble Justice (D Y) Chandrachud,” Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and also comprising justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
The Centre’s argument came after a five-judge Constitution bench, which is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, had cited its February 2017 order in a PIL to question the Department of Telecommunications’ decision to link mobile phone numbers to Aadhaar number of customers.
Meanwhile, advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for NGO Centre for Civil Society, said that linking Aadhaar with PAN for income tax will not help prevent financial frauds or curb black money. Referring to various recent financial frauds, including the Nirav Modi scam, he said none of these could have been avoided by using PAN-Aadhaar linkage.
“Firstly, giant corporates, rather than individual players, have been the main actors in these scams. Secondly, black money is widely known to be stored by the corrupt in foreign banks which are beyond the reach of Aadhaar,” he said.
The bench, however, did not agree with his contention that Aadhaar was voluntary and said if a person wanted to avail subsidy benefits, then he or she will have to possess the 12-digit unique identifier.