The Union government on Thursday lifted the more than two-month-old ban on pre-paid mobile phone service. It, however, introduced a number of conditions on the operators for customer verification.
The decision was taken after the Centre finalised a plan to ensure proper verification of nearly 38 lakh cellphone subscribers in the State, official sources said.
The ban was imposed by the Home Ministry on November 1 last year and Home Minister P. Chidambaram recently said the issue could be revisited if the service providers could give a foolproof plan of 100 per cent verification and the Ministry was satisfied with it.
While restoring the issuance of pre-paid mobile service in accordance with the revised guidelines, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Thursday said upon completion of re-verification of the existing subscribers, they would be allowed the facility of recharge.
The service providers were required to adhere to the revised guidelines scrupulously with immediate effect.
The mobile phone service was allowed in Jammu and Kashmir in 2003, nearly eight years after they were introduced in the rest of the country.
The use and alleged misuse of mobile phones was under “careful watch” since the launch.
Intelligence inputs indicated that mobile phones, especially pre-paid mobiles, were used extensively by militant organisations, including those operating from Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
It was noticed that the implementation of the procedure for obtaining mobile phone connections, particularly the pre-paid ones, was extremely lax, resulting in misuse of the service by militants.
The government banned new prepaid mobile phone connections with effect from November 1, 2009, pending the formulation of a system of re-verification of the existing subscribers and verification of new subscribers and issue of connections, both pre-paid and post-paid.
According to the revised guidelines, ordinarily no individual may subscribe to more than one connection either pre-paid or post-paid.
16 documents as proof
The guidelines listed 16 documents that shall be acceptable as proof of identity and address.
These include passport, arms licence, driving licence, voter’s identity card issued from 2008 onwards, photo identity card of the government, pensioner’s card with photograph, photo credit card, CGHS card, kisan passbook with address, income-tax assessment order and permanent residency card issued by the State government.
According to the guidelines, if a subscriber provides false information and obtains a connection, the same shall be liable to be cancelled without prejudice to any other action that may be taken under law.
The service provider shall exercise utmost caution and discretion in providing a second connection or multiple connections by taking into account all relevant factors, including the reasons given for seeking a second connection and the income of the person or family concerned.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had been pursuing the issue of revoking the ban with the Centre, impressing on the need to work out a solution at the earliest.
The State government had favoured a policy for the operators to resume the pre-paid service, which should include stringent action besides financial penalties on the firms not complying with the verification process.