The Indian government has slapped a penalty of Rs 32 crore on mobile operators for failing to adhere to the subscriber verification norms in 2008-09.

We have imposed penalty on all the mobile operators, including BSNL and MTNL, for failing to meet the subscriber verification condition. The total amount charged comes to Rs 32 crore for the last fiscal, a Department of Telecom official said.

With a penalty of Rs 1,000 for each unverified subscriber, the number of such users comes to about 3.2 lakh.

And with the country’s mobile subscriber base growing fast, this figure is expected to swell further, say industry experts.

Earlier in April this year, DoT introduced a graded penalty system under which operators pay Rs 50,000 per subscriber if more than 20 per cent of their user base is without valid identity documents.

However, the penalty continues to be Rs 1,000 per user if the mobile operator’s unverified subscriber base is less than five per cent of its user base in each of the circles.

If the operator is found to have between five and 10 per cent of its subscribers unverified, then the penalty increases to Rs 5,000.

The levy will increase to Rs 10,000 if the operator has only 85 per cent of its user base verified and for those operators with only 80 per cent verification completed, the penalty will be Rs 20,000 per subscriber.

Subscriber identification is a condition for granting licence and failing to meet it attracts penalty. The onus is on the operator to ensure that all its distributors and franchisees meet the norms.