Aadhaar-issuing authority UIDAI has extended the temporary permission given to Bharti Airtel for using the biometric identity for re-verification of its mobile customers till March 31. It had last month allowed Airtel to use Aadhaar for re-verification of its mobile customers till January 10 with stiff riders after the company returned Rs 138 crore LPG subsidy which flowed into unsolicited payment bank accounts. The Unique Identification Authority of India maintained however that Airtel Payments Bank’s eKYC licence will remain suspended till final enquiry and audit report, sources privy to the development told PTI. When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the UIDAI has permitted Bharti Airtel to continue Aadhaar based e-KYC till March 31, 2018, subject to compliance to guidelines laid down by the authority.” Both Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank had come under fire after the Sunil Mittal-led firm allegedly opened accounts of its mobile phone subscribers without seeking their “informed consent”, and LPG subsidy worth crores was deposited into them. The government acted swiftly in the matter and the UIDAI had temporarily barred the company from conducting Aadhaar-based SIM verification of mobile customers using eKYC process, and e-KYC of payments bank clients.
However, keeping in mind the convenience of customers and also the looming March 31 deadline given by the Supreme Court for mobile SIM re-verification, UIDAI on December 21 allowed Bharti Airtel to use Aadhaar for re-verification of its mobile customers till January 10 with stiff riders. “We continue to engage with the authorities and have addressed all concerns that they have raised. Compliance to all guidelines is of paramount importance to us and we remain committed to this,” the Airtel spokesperson added. Sources said UIDAI will take a view on the issue on February 10 after taking into account the final audit report of Department of Telecom, RBI and others on the matters. To avoid a repeat of Bharti Airtel-type fiasco, the UIDAI last month directed banks to seek an explicit consent of the beneficiary before changing the account to which the government subsidy is being remitted.