Supreme Court asks to link SIM cards to Aadhaar card within one year

In a bid to crackdown fraudulent activities that take place through mobile phones and sim cards, the Supreme Court of India has asked the government to place a mechanism to “verify all mobile phone subscribers and scrutinize their identity to ensure their SIM cards are not misused.”

The government has been asked to link all mobile numbers to Aadhaar card within a period of one year. With this move, all mobile subscribers, including prepaid mobile users, would be required to fill up Aadhaar-based e-KYC (Know Your Customer) forms to ensure true identity.

The existing customers, too, will be verified. The court suggested the unverified prepaid mobile numbers should be given six months time for submitting identity proof, “failing which they should not be allowed any recharge facility.”

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar said such an exercise could be undertaken in a phased manner. “It is submitted that an effective system will be put in place and the process of scrutiny will be completed in one year. We are satisfied that the prayers made in the writ petition have been substantially dealt with,” the bench said.

The latest move from the court is the after-result of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Lok Niti Foundation that sought the court’s intervention to streamline the illegal use of SIM cards in mobile phones.

The filing, which claimed that around 5.25 crore mobile phone subscribers are unverified said, “Unverified SIM cards pose a serious threat to the country’s security as these are routinely used in criminal and terrorist activities.”

The court has also asked DoT and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to respond to the letter and give suggestions on the mobile phone verification issue.