You don't need an Aadhaar card to get a mobile SIM. The Centre has directed telecom companies to start accepting alternative documents such as driving licence, passport and voter ID card.
Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told TOI that operators have been asked to follow the directive immediately to ensure consumers are not inconvenienced.
The move comes after the Supreme Court had rapped the Centre for using its earlier order on 'mandatory authentication of users' as a 'tool' by asking telecom companies to link their mobile numbers with Aadhaar.
The apex court has already clarified that Aadhaar is not mandatory for getting SIM cards until it takes a final view. “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.
Mobile companies have been hounding customers on Aadhaar verification, based on earlier instructions given by the telecom department. The move is a relief for NRIs and foreigners visiting the country. Since a majority of them do not have an Aadhaar card, retailers of mobile companies had started denying them SIM cards. Mobile operators have so far refused to comment on the matter.
“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. It is also understood that the government has asked mobile companies to “take it easy” on the issue of reverification of mobile numbers with Aadhaar. With the Supreme Court extending the deadline for this indefinitely (until its final decision), the government feels that there is no merit for mobile operators to “unnecessarily push” their subscribers on the matter.
Mobile firms have been bombarding customers with calls, messages and other such unsolicited communication, asking them to link their phone number with Aadhaar. They had said that they were “simply complying” with the government’s previous directive on the matter.