New Delhi: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has extended the conditional permission given to Bharti Airtel Ltd to resume Aadhaar-based e-KYC verification of telecom subscribers till 31 March, from the initial date of 10 January.

The move is aimed at facilitating the linking of Aadhaar with mobile SIMs. Coincidentally, the new deadline for this is also 31 March, as directed by the Supreme Court.

However, the suspension of the e-KYC licence of Airtel Payments Bank has still not been revoked.

UIDAI had asked Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the department of telecom (DoT) and audit and consultancy firm PwC India to conduct an audit of Airtel with respect to its systems, processes, applications, documentations and any other aspect as may be identified by the RBI and DoT to ensure that the firm complies with its licence conditions.

UIDAI will take a view on the issue on 10 February after taking into account the final audit report of the DoT, the RBI and others on the matter, said a report by PTI on Thursday, quoting officials.

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. 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 decision to provide a temporary reprieve to Airtel on 21 December was taken after Rs138 crore of funds under the direct benefit transfer scheme were credited back to the original accounts of 5.6 million beneficiaries.

In September, UIDAI had sent a notice to Airtel after receiving complaints that it was opening payments bank accounts without the explicit consent of users. It was also alleged that government subsidies were being credited in these accounts without the knowledge of users.

Last month, UIDAI had issued strict rules asking banks and the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) to ensure prior consent of beneficiaries of various government welfare schemes before switching bank accounts in which they receive subsidies due to them under the direct benefits transfer scheme.

While granting the temporary reprieve to Airtel in December, UIDAI had instructed the firm to use the e-KYC and authentication service only for the purpose of re-verification and issuance of SIM cards and not for obtaining consent of the Aadhaar holder for opening bank accounts, wallets, DTH or any other goods or services.

Both Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank were appointed as authentication user agencies (AUA) by UIDAI and had entered into an agreement with UIDAI in February 2015 and September 2016 respectively for the purposes of availing of authentication services provided by the authority.

Navadha Pandey contributed to this story.

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