Over the last few months, cell phone users must have grown all too used to telecom companies sending persistent messages, urging them to link their Aadhaar. This, even as the Supreme Court has said that linking of the Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory as long as the arguments against its constitutional validity are being heard.
Now, a petition is urging TRAI to pull up telecom service providers who are wrongfully forcing people to link their Aadhaar to their numbers, and even refusing to issue a new SIM unless Aadhaar is provided.
The petition on campaigning platform Jhatkaa, says:
“For more than a year, you, me and a billion of our fellow citizens have been receiving messages from the likes of Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance regarding “mandatory” linking. Many of us also had a difficult time in purchasing a SIM card. Did you know that at some places even foreigners were asked to provide their Aadhaar card to purchase SIM cards?
The Supreme Court finally gave us some clarity on this matter. The court says that Aadhaar is just one of the MANY verification options, and not the only one.
Until the case of Aadhaar’s constitutional validity is completely heard, telecom companies should not jump the gun and harass individuals by asking them to link their Aadhaar number. And this directive should come from TRAI, the body that regulates India’s telecom sector.”
The petition, which is addressed to TRAI chairperson RS Sharma, urges him to tell telcos to wait until the SC hears the arguments against Aadhaar and subsequently rules on the mandatory linking aspect.
It also explains how the government has been making another claim – that it is in fact the apex court which mandated linking Aadhaar to mobile number. But a few days ago, UIDAI counsel Rakesh Dwivedi even admitted to the SC that while the court had not demanded the linkage, the government had started pushing for it based on recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
What had actually happened was that in February 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered for verification of all cell phone subscribers within a year. However, while the recommendation that Aadhaar should be used for verification came up, there was no mandate to make it the only way to authenticate a SIM card.
The government however, took this to say that it was the Supreme Court which had directed for mandatory SIM-Aadhaar linking. In fact, here’s a tweet by Law and Justice and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, making the claim on Twitter.
The Jhatkaa petition urges people to come together to urge TRAI to pull up telecom companies and stand against the telcos who force customers to provide Aadhaar details to recharge their phones, get a new SIM and so on.
You can access the petition here.