NEW DELHI: A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is set to take up pleas challenging making Aadhaar mandatory for various schemes on Oct 30. But with confusing signals coming from government departments and agencies, the issue has been raising more questions than providing answers.
On Wednesday, the government clarified that it was willing to extend the deadline for linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts, mobile numbers and welfare schemes till March 31, 2018, for those who did not have the number.
The government assured the apex court it would not take any coercive action against those who did not have Aadhaar numbers but were willing to enrol for it. Under the provisions of Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, the Central or state government may make receipt of subsidies, benefits or services which are funded out of the Consolidated Fund of India conditional to possession of an Aadhaar number.
The Act, however, states that an individual who has not been assigned an Aadhaar number shall be enrolled for Aadhaar and offered alternate means of identification for receipt of subsidy, benefit or service till the unique identification number is assigned.
But the issue that has left everyone perplexed is whether people who don’t have an Aadhaar number can get a SIM card. Telecom operators say they can but they will have to link the SIM to Aadhaar when they get it. The ground reality, however, is different.
Retailers and distributors of telecom firms refuse to issue SIM card without an Aadhaar card. Most stores in Delhi insist on Aadhaar for a new SIM card and only some are ready to accept other proofs of identity.
“The Aadhaar card is mandatory for procuring a SIM card. We cannot sell them on the basis of other identification documents such as driving licence or voter ID card,” said the owner of Alok Mobile in Mahipalpur.
However, Rajan Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India, the apex body of mobile operators, said some retailers might have misunderstood the government’s direction.