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The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Central government to frame rules within a year to ensure that SIM cards are not misused by people, especially in an era where — given the push by the government for people to go cashless and conduct digital transactions — banking has moved to phones.

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Meanwhile, the government has told the apex court that it will need one year to ensure that all SIM cards currently valid in the country are linked to Aadhaar cards of the people in whose name they have been issued. As of now, there is no mechanism in place that connects a SIM card to someone's Aadhaar number, except for maybe Reliance Jio, for which Aadhaar card is mandatory.

The SC order and the Centre's reply comes after the apex court, which is hearing a case of a public interest litigation (PIL) pertaining to misuse of SIM cards, expressed concerns over the non-existence of a mechanism to identify the owner of a SIM card in case it was misused by someone.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar had earlier observed that there should be mechanisms to help the government expeditiously identify those who misuse SIM cards, especially to defraud people and commit economic offences.

The PIL — on which the SC has ordered the creation of rules against misuse of SIM cards — has been filed by an NGO named Lokniti Foundation. The NGO has pleaded the court to order the Central government and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to ensure that no SIM card is issued without proper and comprehensive verification.