The government has banned the import of Chinese handsets that do not have the international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) - a unique 15-digit security code - with immediate effect, a union minister said on Thursday.
"The government has prohibited the import of mobile handsets without IMEI number or with all zeroes in its place with immediate effect," Minister of State for Telecommunications Gurudas Kamat told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
IMEI helps the authorities identify the handset used for GSM network, while the electronic serial number (ESN) is used for CDMA network for the same purpose.
Earlier, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had directed telecom operators to dosconect services to phones that do not have the IMEI code as such phones pose security threat.
The government's move came after investigating agencies found that terrorists have been using non-IMEI mobile phones for their communications.
Around 30 million or 8 per cent of India's mobile phone subscribers use the cheap handsets that are generally imported from China and Taiwan.