India: DoT clarifies no phone disconnection over Aadhaar

November 3, 2018


The technological superiority over the years has allowed transmission of messages over significant distances for the purpose of communication. This has allowed people to stay connected with one another even though they may be separated over vast geographical terrains. Telecommunication signals can be transmitted to different types of media such as telephone wires, or radio waves. Considering the vitality of the nature of services being provided it becomes an important responsibility of the administrating authorities to ensure efficient system of proper connecting channels.

Administering Communication

The Government through its telecom branch- Department of Telecommunication (hereinafter referred to as “DoT”) enforces polices and guidelines for the regulation of telecommunication in India which is monitored by the Telcom Regulatory of India (hereinafter referred to as “TRAI”) in accordance to the provisions of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (hereinafter referred to as “TRAI Act”).

Authentic connection

At the time of opting for the telecommunication services, the customers are put through a process of verification under the ‘Know Your Customer’ (hereinafter referred to as “KYC”) norms of the service provider. The documents evidencing that the authentication of a particular customer include PAN Card, Voter ID, Driving License, Passport, etc. These identity proofs help in clearly identifying a particular customer of the service provider.

Aadhaar not mandatory

Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number based on the biometric and demographic data of the individuals comprising of information such as a photograph, ten fingerprints and two iris scans, which are stored in a centralised database. Aadhaar is the social security number issued to every citizen of the country.

As per the judgement of the Supreme Court dated September 26, 2018, the provisions of Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (hereinafter referred to as “Aadhaar Act”), which allowed private entities which used Aadhaar for verification purpose was struck off.[1]

In furtherance to the aforesaid judgement, the DoT informed that the subscribers could submit other verification documents if they wished their service providers to replace their Aadhaar eKYC with the fresh KYC.[2] However, the same would not lead to disconnection of the existing service subscription. DoT clarified that the onus of destruction of the eKYC data within 6 months laid with the Aadhaar regulator – the Unique Identification Authority of India (hereinafter referred to as “UIDAI”). Further, it has also been provided that the Supreme Court only prohibited issuance of new SIM cards through Aadhaar verification process.

It has been announced that in view to streamline the process of issuance of new connection, DoT and UIDAI are in the process of developing a mobile App which would ease the customer verification process while remaining compliant to the abovementioned Supreme Court judgement using One-time password.


[2]Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Another Vs. Union of India and Others [SC Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012]

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