The Supreme Court Friday directed that a five-member expert committee be set up to recommend guidelines for verifying those applying for prepaid mobile connections.
A bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice Swatanter Kumar, in its judgment, said the committee would be headed by the secretary, department of telecommunications (DoT), and have two members each from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the DoT.
Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Swatanter Kumar said: "We hereby direct the constitution of a Joint Expert Committee consisting of two experts from TRAI and two experts from DoT to be chaired by the secretary, ministry of communications and information technology, government of India.”
The committee is mandated to resolve the issues on which TRAI has expressed its divergent views on the instructions issued by the DoT March 14.
Identifying the area of divergence that needed to be examined, the court said that the expert committee would address the issue whether re-verification should be undertaken by the service provider/licensee, the DoT itself or any other central body and if there was any need for enhancing the penalty for violating the instructions/guidelines including sale of pre-activated SIM cards.
Besides that, the court said that expert committee will examine which was the best mode of delivery of SIM cards to provide due verification of identity and address of a subscriber. The committee will also address the issue of delivery of SIM cards being made by post.
The committee will also recommend whether the existing application form or the one suggested by the TRAI should be adopted as universal application form for purchase of a SIM card.
Besides this, the committee will also address whether in the absence of Unique ID card, the updating of subscriber details should be the burden of the licensee personally or could it be permitted to be carried out through an authorised representative of the licensee.
Finally the expert committee will examine whether, in view of the national security, the database of all registered subscribers should be maintained by DoT or by the licensee and how soon the same may be made accessible to the security agencies in accordance with law.
“The above notified committee shall resolve the above specified issues and any other ancillary issue arising there from and make its recommendations known to the DoT within three months from today," the judgment said.
The DoT would consider these recommendations and based on it would amend, modify, alter, add to or substitute the instruction issued by it March 14, the court said.
Partially allowing the petition by a businessman Avishek Goenka engaged in mobile phone business, the court said that the “composite instructions, so formulated, shall positively be issued by the DoT within 15 weeks from today and report of compliance submitted to the registry of this court.”