The worst fears expressed after the Supreme Court delivered its Aadhar judgement was on the use of Aadhaar for KYC verification by the mobile companies. These companies, including the top 3, Vodafone, Idea and Airtel and the newcomer Reliance Jio, have now taken up with UIDAI that they have already spent huge sums on creating the infrastructure for the verification process using Aadhaar.
According to an Economic Times report, they claim that all that effort will go waste if they followed the SC order. The companies have, in the meanwhile, submitted their proposals for exiting the current practice of ID verification through Aadhaar.
It is known to the government and all stakeholders that the telecom industry has been going through a rough patch fallowing massive drop in tariffs following the launch of Jio. Now with any new method of verifying the identity of their customers will mean more investments and training of their personnel throughout the country, a massive exercise by any reckoning. The biometric devices they had to invest in earlier will also go waste.
The Ministry of Telecommunications is expected to come up with some viable alternatives so that there is no letup in enrolling new subscribers by the telcos while ensuring that there is no letup in the security aspect, which drove the government to insist on the unique ID in the first place.
There is also the question of delinking Aadhaar from the existing KYCs as mandated by the SC. If customers approach the telecom companies to delink their Aadhaar database, they will have to comply. And in such situations, if they continue offering such customers their regular service as before, would they be violating the norms set by the DoT and TRAI? They are sitting on a base of over 90% of their customers whose IDs have been verified using the biometric proof of the customer fingerprints, matched with the UIDAI database through the Aadhaar number. It may take a while before a lasting solution is found in this case.