The Department of Telecommunication has issued a notice making it mandatory for all telecom subscribers to re-verify existing customers through the Aadhaar-based E-KYC process. This means that all mobile numbers will have to be linked to Aadhaar numbers. The process has to be completed by February 6, 2018.

The directive is applicable to both prepaid and postpaid users. It also states that connections that are used only for the internet and do not have incoming or outgoing facilities must be linked to another number provided by the user.

The Supreme Court in February 2017 had asked the government to re-verify the phone numbers of all mobile phone users in the country within a year, while hearing a petition filed by the Lokiti Foundation. The Centre had responded to the court’s order by saying that it would use Aadhaar numbers to establish this information.

The top court has, however, has repeatedly said that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory, and it should only be used voluntarily. However, the Centre has continued to make Aadhaar compulsory for various government schemes, benefits and services.

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Finance Bill, 2017, which makes the Aadhaar card mandatory for filing income-tax returns from July 1. Earlier, the government had made Aadhaar mandatory for 12 other welfare schemes, including the popular mid-day meal programme. However, in case of the mid-day meals, the administration later changed its order and said any other ID proof would work as well after facing an outcry.

A total of 1.1 billion people in the country are enrolled in the Aadhaar system.