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Limit prepaid SIM cards to 1 per person: Punjab & Haryana HC suggests to curb cyber crime

By Shreya Agarwal      08 June, 2024 06:20 PM      0 Comments
Limit prepaid SIM cards to 1 per person Punjab and Haryana HC suggests to curb cyber crime

CHANDIGARH: Dealing with a case where a scamster had 35 prepaid SIM cards on his name, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has suggested imposing a limit of 1 prepaid SIM per person.

While currently there is a limit of 9 SIM cards per person, the Court enquired as to "why there is absence of governmental measures restricting individuals to a single prepaid SIM card, and the rationale behind permitting the issuance of prepaid SIM cards to entities such as firms, associations, organisations and companies.”

The Court also questioned the rationale behind issuing multiple SIMs per person “given the Aadhar Card is exclusively linked to a single SIM card for OTP generation.."

These observations were made in light of the fact that scamsters use these multiple SIMs to defraud unassuming individuals.

The Court issued an interim direction to the Ministry of Telecommunication stating that the restriction could effectively curb cybercrime incidents, "consequently reducing financial fraud and the exploitation of individuals and their assets, and India’s image."

Coming to the specific case at hand the Court also went on to refuse the bail plea of Sumit Nandwani, a Madhya Pradesh resident who had acquired 35 SIM cards in his name to commit various scams, while legally he could only acquire 9 on a single ID.

Besides, people can also acquire SIM cards in the name of organizations, associations, etc.

Arrested in a cybercrime case in Haryana, Nandwani used the different numbers assigned to these SIM cards to cheat unsuspecting victims, Superintendent of Police, Nandwani submitted to the Court.

Out of these, 12 SIM cards still remained active, according to the cops.

This prompted the Court to also question the means employed by the accused to acquire such prepaid SIMs.

Highlighting the rising number of cybercrimes in the country, the Court wrote, “According to reports, cybercrime predominantly takes place through prepaid SIM cards rather than post-paid SIM cards or landlines."

“These encompass a range of scams such as counterfeit tech support services, fraudulent Amazon and gift card schemes, insurance fraud, courier frauds, and the unlawful conversion of cyber proceeds into cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Notably, a considerable proportion of these illicit endeavours are orchestrated via mobile devices,” the Court noted.

Summarising its concerns on the issuance of multiple SIM cards, the Court suggested restricting prepaid SIM cards to one per individual and for the Ministry to provide a window for telecom service providers to validate a single SIM card linked to an Aadhar.

Further suggestions:

- Option to be given to holders convert the validated prepaid SIM card into a post-paid one,
- Directive for service providers to disconnect all other prepaid SIM cards for an individual holder by a specified deadline.
- In case of minors, parents and caretakers may be given an option to obtain prepaid SIM cards associated with their Aadhaar cards,
- Foreign nationals may be entitled to acquire a single prepaid SIM card, on the verification and validation of their passports through OTP.

Cause Title: Sumit Nandwani V/S State of Haryana



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