There has been a lot of confusion regarding the usage of Aadhaar, especially in the telecom sector. The Centre has today clarified that an Aadhaar card is not mandatory to get a SIM card and it blamed telcos for the confusion. The government has also directed telcos to issue SIM cards with alternate documents like Voter ID, license and passport. Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan clarified this news saying that the telcos have been asked to follow the new directives at the earliest. In the last few months, telecom operators have been spamming users with calls and SMSes asking them to verify their mobile connection with users. Already, the Supreme Court has suspended the mandatory Aadhaar linking with mobile connections.
"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," Sundararajan told TOI.
However, there's no update from telcos whether they'll be following this directive or not. Also, telcos are still sending SMSes and calls asking the users to link their Aadhaar number with mobile. It will be interesting see if this directive at least puts a stop to those.
Last month, the Supreme Court suspended the mandatory Aadhaar linking with mobile connections indefinitely, which gave a huge relief to foreigners and NRIs visiting the country for a short period. And today's directive issued by the telecom commission will be another relief for them as they can now walk to a store without the requirement of Aadhaar card to get a SIM card.
As mentioned above, telecom operators are not issuing SIM cards to people without an Aadhaar card. "This kind of a denial by retailers is completely uncalled for when there is no legal basis to enforce it. Such practices will not be tolerated," a senior official told TOI.
Also, in today's directive, the government has allegedly asked telcos to stop asking users to reverify their mobile connection with Aadhaar because of the last month's directive from the Supreme Court.