Although eSign has several benefits, different countries have different laws with respect to digital signatures and eSign.
Hence, one should check out on the validity of electronic signatures in any country before executing a document and signing it electronically.
Aadhaar-based eSignature has gained a lot of popularity for digital signatures in India.
Now, let’s take a closer look at eSign (electronic signatures), its validity, the documents it’s invalid on and when it is revoked, among other key points with respect to India.
Are Electronic Signatures Legally Valid In India?
Under the Information Technology Act, 2000, Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) are legally valid as per the Indian Law.
Licensed Certifying Authorities (CA’s) issue DSC’s under the Ministry of Information Technology which makes the use of DSC’s authentic and valid, just as any wet or physical signature.
Electronic signatures also serve as a proof of signature and presumption to electronic agreements under the Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 1882.
DSCs are generated for Aadhaar-based eSign as well and it can be viewed by clicking on the eSign button.
This DSC record is created and the eSign should be used within 30 minutes, after which the private key is destroyed.
Although the key is destroyed almost immediately, once an electronic signature has been applied to a document, it is valid forever.
Digital signatures issued by licensed CA’s are legally valid in a court of law as per the IT Act, 2000.
Under Section 2(p) and Section 3 of the Act, digital signatures are considered reliable, legal and secure because digital signatures employ hash functions and cryptosystems for electronic records.
It is also important to understand how to validate eSign.
eSign or electronic signatures are digital signatures that can be applied to electronic documents as per Section 5 of the Act, which explains the legal recognition of electronic signatures.
As per Section 3A of the Act, a subscriber may authenticate an electronic record with an electronic signature that is considered reliable or as stipulated in the Second Schedule of the IT Act, 2000.
According to Section 3A, Schedule 3 of the IT Act, 2000, an electronic signature is considered valid if all of the following conditions are fulfilled:
- The data created with respect to signature creation and authentication is linked between the signatory and the authenticator only.
- The signatory of the electronic document has the intent to sign and has the control of the electronic signature, and not any other person.
- Any changes made to a signature, information, data, etc. are evident and detectable.
- It fulfils conditions prescribed by the Central Government, by way of notification in the Official Gazette.
Basically, authorized CA’s that issue digital signatures are always ipso facto valid and any other kind of electronic signatures used, need to prove their reliability and validity as per Section 3A (as stated above) to be considered valid.
Any signature that is reliable is legally recognized and valid under Section 5 of the Amendment to the IT Act, 2000.
Documents On Which eSign Is Invalid In India
The Central Government has stipulated that electronic signatures cannot be used on all classes of documents.
Any electronic signature used on any of the documents listed below will not make such a signature or the document itself valid.
Under Section 1(4) of the IT Act, 2000, electronic signatures or the IT Act itself is not applicable to:
- Any class of documents as stipulated by the Central Government by way of a notification published in the Official Gazette from time to time.
- Any sale of immovable property in India or any contract, interest or conveyance in such property.
- Power of Attorney as per Section 1A of the Powers of Attorney Act, 1882.
- A will and/or testament as per Section 2(h) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.
- A negotiable instrument as per Section 13 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
- A trust as per Section 3 of the Indian Trusts Act, 1882.
Revoking Of Digital Signature
A digital signature certificate can be revoked by a CA, thereby making the use of such DSC devices invalid. DSC here refers to the file inside the DSC USB dongle, and not the digital signature itself.
Please note that the signatures already placed using the device are permanent and cannot be revoked.
A subscriber can make his/her case before the CA before a DSC is revoked. A Certifying Authority has the power to revoke a Digital Signature Certificate if:
- A subscriber submits a request to revoke his or her DSC
- A subscriber has passed away.
- The subscriber is a company or firm and a decision is made to wind up.
- A fact in the DSC is misrepresented, falsified or hidden.
- A requirement for the issue of a DSC was not satisfied.
- The CA’s security system or private key is compromised.
- The subscriber is declared insolvent, dead, ceases to exist, etc.
A person or company is not permitted to publish a DSC unless:
- The DSC is issued by a Certifying Authority (CA).
- The subscriber in the list has accepted the DSC.
- The certificate has not been suspended, revoked or canceled.
- If a person does not abide by the following stipulations when using a digital signature, then that individual is liable to pay a fine of INR one lakh or serve an imprisonment sentence of two years, or both.
How To Avail eSign?
That means you can use an electronic signature just by using the OTP generated on your Aadhaar-enabled mobile device once you make a request to sign an electronic document.
You can check out our rates for the services we offer using SignDesk.com.