The Department of Telecommunications on Friday issued a notification, directing all phone service providers to reverify details for all existing subscribers through Aadhaar-based e-KYC (Know Your Customer) process.
This follows a Supreme Court order last month in which it had approved the government’s plan to record the identification details of mobile subscribers through an e-KYC mechanism linked to Aadhaar.
The move will impact more than 100 crore mobile phone subscribers in the country, 90% of whom are prepaid card users.
The process is likely to cost about ₹2,500 crore which will be borne by the service providers, according to industry body COAI.
“All licensees shall re-verify all existing mobile subscriber (prepaid and postpaid) through Aadhaar based e-KYC process,” the department said in a notification, adding that the process should be complete by February 6, 2018.
The department’s decision comes two days after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved an amendment to the Finance Bill 2017 to make Aadhaar mandatory for individuals to apply for a PAN (Permanent Account Number) card and for filing income tax returns from July 1 this year.
Earlier this week, the Centre made it mandatory for beneficiaries to quote their Aadhaar number to avail themselves of benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana for skill development, and the Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers.
Grains to pension
The Centre had identified 31 schemes in which the Aadhaar could be made mandatory. Notifications have been issued in recent months by departments to make Aadhaar compulsory for getting subsidised grains under the National Food Security Act, jobs under the MGNREGA and pension benefits under the Employees’ Pension Scheme.
The Department of Telecommunications in the notification has instructed that the industry intimate their existing subscribers through advertisement in print and electronic media as well as SMS “about the orders of the Supreme Court for reverification activity and shall upload the complete details of this activity on their website.”
The department has also asked that companies devise a mechanism to avoid public inconvenience as well as long public queues.
“Once a subscriber is reverified and the details in the subscriber base are updated successfully as the eKYC process, the licensee can destroy the old customer application forms of such reverified subscribers unless the licensee is directed to preserve the same by the licensor or law enforcement agencies or judicial forums,” the notification stated.
It added that any subscriber acquired through proof of identity or proof of address documents during the period of reverification will also need to be reverified.
In January this year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended the use of Aadhaar-based e-KYC for verification of existing mobile subscribers.
It had, however, proposed that this process should be optional to the service providers as well as mobile subscribers.
Mobile connections used for data services will be verified using the alternate number.