In simple language it means signing documents electronically or digitally. With Digital Signature a person can sign the documents digitally.
Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) are the digital equivalent (that is electronic format) of physical or paper certificates.
Physical documents, that is documents in paper form, can be signed manually, but electronic documents /forms require digital signature.
Now, almost everything is digitized, and Government accepts applications/forms only electronically. These e-forms cannot be signed manually, they have to be digitally signed.
Digital Signatures are required for :
There are three type of DSC issued by certifying authorities, each having different purpose.
Class 1 Certificates: These are issued to individual/private subscribers and are used to confirm that the user’s name and email contact details from the clearly defined subject lie within the database of the certifying authority.
Class 2 Certificates: These are issued to the director/signatory authorities of the companies for the purpose of e-filing with the Registrar of Companies (ROC). Class 2 certificate is mandatory for individuals who have to sign manual documents while filing of returns with the ROC.
Class 3 Certificates: These certificates are used in online participation/bidding in e-auctions and online tenders anywhere in India. The vendors who wish to participate in the online tenders must have a Class 3 digital signature certificate.
Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) Applicants can directly approach Certification Agencies (CAs) with original supporting documents, and self-attested copies will be sufficient in this case.
Certification Agencies are appointed by the office of the Controller of Certification Agencies (CCA) under the provisions of IT Act, 2000. There are a total of eight Certification Agencies authorised by the CCA to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs). They are -
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