Aadhaar not mandatory for getting SIM cards, says govt

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Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told TOI that operators have been asked to follow the directive immediately to ensure consumers are not inconvenienced.

A day later, Sundararajan was reported to have clarified, saying there has been no change in the current rules that say that Aadhaar is just one of the IDs needed for a new mobile phone connection, and those who don't have it, can't be denied a connection.

Earlier, the Government of India had been encouraging the process to link Aadhaar card details of the residents to various services like banks and mobile phone number. Since these customers lack Aadhaar card they have found it hard to procure SIM cards during their stay in the country. This plea is being heard with other challenges against the Aadhaar scheme that the top court is now hearing. "Section 57 snapped the link with section 7 (which mandates use of Aadhaar to receive subsidies) and the targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services", the bench, also comprising Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said, according to news agency Press Trust of India. With this confirmation, Indian citizens are not allowed to give any other form of verification Ids like driving license, passport, and voter ID card. I personally have faced this issue at several occasions, and, the government asking telecom companies to accept other forms of KYC certainly brings in a big relief. However, official sources said the government has taken it very seriously. But whether this actually stops telecos from calling and messaging on linking Aadhaar is something that we will have to wait and see.

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The fresh instruction comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court claiming a few days ago that the government had misused its former order on SIM verification to force consumers into linking their SIM cards with their Aadhaar cards.

"This kind of a denial by retailers is completely uncalled for when there is no legal basis to enforce it".

Appearing for UIDAI, senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi told the five-judge Supreme Court constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra. hearing a spate of cases challenging Aadhaar's constitutional validity, that the UIDAI can't do it and no single requesting entity, which are all under the state's control, accessing UIDAI for the authentication will have all the data. "Hence, they continue to send communication to subscribers to re-verify their mobile connections without mentioning any last date", Rajan Mathews, director-general of industry body COAI, had said.

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