The Modi government on Thursday, August 9, gave a two-year extension to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman RS Sharma.
Sharma’s term was to end this week but now as per the government’s notification, he will remain the regulator till September 30, 2020 when he turns 65.
Sharma was recently in news for a controversial challenge he threw to critics of Aadhaar, daring them to cause any harm by hacking into his details by publicly disclosing his Aadhaar number on twitter.
“My Aadhaar number is XXXX XXXX XXXX (masked). Now I give this challenge to you: Show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me!,” the TRAI chairperson had tweeted on July 28.
Responding to the challenge, Twitter users posted his cellphone number, residential address, bank account and other personal details.
Sharma replied that sharing these details will not cause any harm to him as it is available in the public domain and has insisted that no harm was caused to him by those who are sceptical of Aadhaar programme and its collection of biometric data of citizens.
However, after the challenge, the UIDAI asked the citizens to not disclose their Aadhaar number as it was contravention of the law.
Sharma once headed the country’s ambitious UIDAI, which executes the Aadhaar programme and has been an ardent proponent of the scheme.
The notification extending his term was issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) after the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared his extension.
Former Commerce Secretary Rita Teotia, a Gujarat cadre IAS who superannuated in July this year, was said to be a front runner to replace Sharma, whose tenure was scheduled to end on August 10, 2018, said media reports. Teotia had worked as additional secretary, telecom and was thus considered a frontrunner for the regulator’s job.
“The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the reappointment of Shri Ram Sewak Sharma, IAS (retd) as Chairperson, TRAI for a further period beyond 10.08.2018 upto 30.09.2020 i.e the date on which he attains the age of 65 years or until further ordered, whichever is earlier,” an official order issued by the Personnel Ministry stated.
The statement added that the necessary communication in this regard has been sent to the Department of Telecommunication.
Sharma was appointed as the chairperson of TRAI in July 2015 for a three-year period.