Days after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Aadhar may become the single identity card in future, the department of telecommunications (DoT) directed all mobile phone service providers to re-verify existing customers using their unique Aadhaar identity number and biometric details.
According to a report in Mint, the government has moved to make Aadhaar-based e-KYC (know your customer) mandatory for mobile phone connections.
The DoT has asked the service providers to complete the exercise by early next year. Aadhaar-based e-KYC would also be mandatory for customers procuring new SIM cards, the report said.
The DoT directive was in line with the Supreme Court orders that asked the government to link over 100 crore mobile subscribers' phone numbers to Aadhaar within a year.
"All licensees shall intimate their existing subscribers through advertisement in print/electronic media as well as SMS about the orders of the Supreme Court for re-verification activity and shall upload the complete details of this activity on their website," ET d a DoT notice as saying.
It will affect over 1.1 billion telecom subscribers who will soon have to go through a fresh verification exercise. According to telecom industry estimates, the entire verification process could cost at least Rs 1,000 crore.
Earlier on Wednesday, the government had proposed to make Aadhaar card mandatory for filing income tax return and also applying for permanent account number (PAN). The new proposal was made through an amendment to the Finance Bill.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, the Finance Minister said that the reason to make Aadhaar number a mandatory was to get rid of those who possess multiple PAN cards for tax evasion.
"With Aadhaar, we can stop a person from creating extra PAN cards as it is backed by biometrics like finger prints and iris scans," Jaitley had said.
"We have seen some examples where people own at least five PAN cards for tax fraud purposes and because of that the government has proposed to provide Aadhaar number while filing returns. And, for those who don't have it, they can always apply for it," the Finane Minister had said.
According to him, around 98 per cent of adults in the country have Aadhaar number and more than 108 crore Aadhaar cards have been issued. The government has already made Aadhar number a mandatory document for some of the government-run schemes.