Even though the Supreme Court has given the Centre four weeks to explain why it is necessary to link one's mobile phone number to their Aadhaar or the unique 12-digit identification number, it looks like the Centre has no plans to back down. However, if you have been complaining about what a hassle it is to go to the network carrier's store to verify your details, here's some good news.
From December 1, it will not be necessary for mobile phone users to visit these stores to link their number with their Aadhaar. Instead, they can do this from the comforts of their homes through alternatives such as a one-time password (OTP). While the process will start only next month, the idea has already been approved by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
"Yes, we have approved it. We had a very detailed discussion with the telecom operators, and they have come out with a scheme which is secure and will also be convenient to people," UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told the Economic Times.
However, consumers will be able to avail the benefits of this system only if their mobile number is already in the Aadhaar database. "And this will help people verify their mobile number with Aadhaar without going to a telecom outlet, provided their mobile number is already added to Aadhaar database," he added.
Meanwhile, the OTP verification is not the only option. The department of telecom has already permitted telecom brands to carry out the verification process through interactive voice response system (IVRS) and via the brand's mobile apps as well.
Additionally, consumers who cannot use any of these methods and also aren't able to visit the stores can also avail the facility to re-verify their numbers through iris-based biometric devices that will be provided at their doorsteps.
The Centre has earlier clarified that all subscribers must link their numbers with Aadhaar by February 6, failing which the mobile numbers will be deactivated.
The Centre's affidavit says that the Supreme Court had approved the decision to mandatorily link Aadhaar and mobile numbers and the deadline has been set. Additionally, both the Centre as well as the SC have said that the deadline will not be extended.
"The deadline for linkage of Aadhaar with mobile phone number cannot be modified by the government unilaterally (as it is fixed by the SC)," the Times of India quoted the Centre as saying.
The Centre's statement comes at a time when the apex court is set to hear a number of petitions that speaks against linking one's mobile number with Aadhaar, citing privacy concerns. Just a few days ago, the SC had also heard a plea filed by the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government regarding the linking and rapped Banerjee for the defiance.
The deadline to link Aadhaar with existing bank accounts has been extended to March 31, but the new ones must mandatorily be linked to Aadhaar at the time of opening the account.