The government on Tuesday said that mobile SIM cards could be issued to those who do not have an Aadhaar number, The Times of India reported. Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told the daily that the Centre had issued instructions to telecom companies to accept alternative identification documents such as driving licence, passport and voter ID card.

Until last week, mobile companies had been asking customers to link their phone number with Aadhaar. “The communication is still being sent to cellphone users to encourage them to re-verify their mobile connections,” said Rajan Mathews, the director-general of the Cellular Operators Association of India. “However, no last date for completion of this exercise is to be mentioned in such communication...All the telecom companies are adhering to telecom ministry guidelines.”

The Supreme Court on April 25 clarified that it had never made it mandatory for SIM cards to be linked with Aadhaar. Justice DY Chandrachud, one of the five judges on the Constitution Bench hearing petitions against the Aadhaar Act, said that the court did not ask to make SIM-Aadhaar linking mandatory when it asked the government to register and verify every SIM card within a year.

“In fact there was no such direction from the Supreme Court, but you took it and used it as tool to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users,” Chandrachud had told Rakesh Dwivedi, the Unique Identification Authority of India’s counsel. Dwivedi had then admitted that SIM-Aadhaar linking had commenced on the basis of the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India even before the court had passed the order.