India

eSignature Legality Summary

eSignatures are legally valid and admissible in the court of law. India follows a hierarchical root of trust model where eSignatures or digital signatures issued by a Certifying Authority are considered legally valid. Specific use cases for eSignatures are indicated in the IT Act.

The Information Technology Act, (established in 2000) in Indian law highlights that a handwritten signature isn’t always needed for a contract to be considered credible, and that contracts can’t be refused for simply being electronic. They’ll usually be seen as such as long as legally able individuals have reached an agreement (this can be by agreeing verbally, electronically or by physically signing something). Under Section 65B of the Evidence Act (1872), e-signature solutions can be used to give electronic records that are admissible as evidence to support contracts in court.
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Use Cases for eSignatures ?

Use cases where an SES is typically appropriate include:

  • Speedy HR document preparation with preapproved templates, easy update of each employee, new employee onboarding processes as well as 360 degree view of employee files.
  • End user agreements including sales & service terms, new retail account opening documents, invoices, shipment details, user manual, EULAs, policies

Use Cases for Qualified Signatures ?

Use cases where an AES is typically appropriate include:

  • Purchase, procurement and commercial agreements including invoices, trade and payment terms, certificates, NDAs, sales & distribution agreements, order acknowledgements.
  • Real estate lease agreements for residential and commercial purpose

Use Cases that are not appropriate for Electronic Signatures

Use cases that are specifically barred from digital or electronic processes or that include explicit requirements, such as handwritten (e.g. wet ink) signatures or formal notarial process that are not usually compatible with electronic signatures or digital transaction management.

  • Handwritten - negotiable instrument, other than a cheque (IT Act not applicable)
  • Handwritten - power-of-attorney (IT Act not applicable)
  • Handwritten - trust deed (IT Act not applicable)
  • Handwritten - will or any other testamentary disposition (IT Act not applicable)
  • Handwritten - Any contract for the sale or conveyance of immovable property or any interest in such property (IT Act not applicable)

List of Local Trust Service Providers

Institute Regulatory Body/CA/DSC Providers Supported by emSigner Website
Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology - Controller of Certifying Authorities Controller of Certification Authorities Yes http://www.cca.gov.in/cca/
emudhra. CA Yes http://www.e-mudhra.com/
NSDL CA Yes https://www.nsdl.co.in/
Capricorn CA Yes https://www.certificate.digital/
CDAC CA Yes https://esign.cdac.in/
(n) Code Solutions CA Yes http://www.ncodesolutions.com/
National Informatics Centre CA Yes http://www.nic.in/
IDRBT CA Yes http://idrbtca.org.in/
Safescrypt CA Yes http://www.sifytechnologies.com/

“Digital Signature” means a transformation of a message using an asymmetric cryptosystem such that a person having the initial message and the signer’s public key can accurately determine
(a) whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signer’s public key;
(b) whether the message has been altered since the transformation was made

[1] An AES is an “advanced electronic signature”, a type of electronic signature that meets the following requirements:
(a) it is uniquely linked to the signatory;
(b) it is capable of identifying the signatory;
(c) it is created using means that are under the signatory’s sole control;
(d) it is linked to other electronic data in such a way that any alteration to the said data can be detected.

[2] A QES is a specific digital signature implementation that has met the particular specifications of a government, including using a secure signature creation device, and been certified as ‘qualified’ by either that government or a party contracted by that government.

External Resources

http://www.meity.gov.in/content/information-technology-act
http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/1-50/report13.pdf

DISCLAIMER: This information is intended to help you understand the legal framework of electronic signatures. However, eMudhra cannot provide legal advice. The law of electronic signatures is constantly evolving. This guide is not intended as a legal advice and should not serve as a substitute for professional legal advice. You should consult an attorney regarding any specific legal concerns.
eMudhra, and all associates including agents, officers, employees or affiliates, are not liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary or consequential damages.