Today is the era of digitization and it has transformed the world into a global village. Almost everything is transforming into digitization, be it business or education, etc. However, business has been the key area where digitization is introduced at a very fast pace. Digital solutions have been introduced to offer leverage to users and businessmen over processes. One of such key digitization is “Electronic Signatures”.

Electronic signatures also are known as E-signatures have been introduced in India as well, like the rest of the world. Electronic signatures are representation is among the biggest opportunities for accelerating businesses across India. In fact, E-signatures have been valid in India for over 18 years now but its pace has currently increased and now has a legal status as well.

E-signatures in India

There are two types of e-signatures that are recognized by the IT act of India given below in detail.

1. E-Signatures Combining eKYC Service with Aadhaar

Aadhaar is an exclusive ID of every individual living in India issued by the Government. The users who have Aadhaar ID have the leverage to use it as an e-signature for availing online services. The e-signature used through aadhaar ID is secure and online documents can be authorized through it.

There is a web or mobile interface for the users which is integrating e-signature with that of ASP (Application Service Provider). However, e-signatures can only be used for online documentation and user authentication is made through One Time Password (OTP).

2.  E-Signatures Generated by Asymmetric Crypto-System

The asymmetric cryptosystem is referring to a pair of secure keys i.e. public and private keys which are exclusive for each user and are used for the creation of e-signature. The users are obtaining a digitized signature from the certifying agency and have a valid digital certificate as well.

The certificate is comprising of the name of the user along with a public key, information of expiry date of a digital certificate, and some other critical information of a user. Sometimes, users are issued a USB token having a digital certificate ID and PIN for signing a document.

Factors helping E-signatures to Work in India

The following are major factors that are helping e-signatures to work in India.

  • E-signatures are unique for each user and often a digital certificate is issued against each ID.
  • The user signing a specific document has full control over data being used for the generation of e-signatures.
  • The detection of an alteration in any document to which e-signature is affixed is very easy as the document is being encrypted through the tamper-evident algorithm.
  • The e-signature services are only issued by authenticated certifying authorities which are already recognized by the government and IT Act of India.

Documents to which E-Signatures cannot be affixed

There are certain documents to which e-signatures cannot be affixed and requires a conventional procedure such as registration from registrar etc. and requires only handwritten signatures for approval. Such a list of documents is given below.

  • Exchange of cheque or other monetary deeds.
  • Documents that are negotiable e.g. promissory notes etc.
  • Power of Attorney and trust deeds.
  • Will statements.
  • Contracts of real estate or leases etc.