Digital Signature

Last udpated: Jan. 8, 2019, 1:21 p.m.

What is Digital Signature?

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.

Why Digital Signature is required?

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 :

  • Income Tax e-filing
  • RBI Applications(SFMS)
  • MCA e-Filing
  • e-Procurement/e-Tendering
  • IRCTC (e-Ticketing/e-Tender)
  • DGFT (IET)
  • Employee Provident Fund
  • and many more...

Advantages of Digital Signature

  1. Saves time and cost : In manual system documents are to be manually signed, scanned and then mailed. With Digital signature you can directly sign and mail PDF documents.
  2. Reliability: Physical signature can be copied by anybody. Any one can sign physical documents on your behalf. It is not so in case of digital signatures. Documents signed with digital signatures can not be altered.
  3. Authenticity: Digital signature gives confidence to receiver to be assured that documents are not forged.
  4. Legally valid :The Information Technology Act, 2000 has provisions for use of Digital Signatures on the documents submitted in electronic form. I is acceptable as proof or evidence in court.

Classes of DSC

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.

Process of obtaining digital signature

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 -

  1. Safe Scrypt
  2. IDRBT
  3. (n) Code Solutions
  4. e-Mudhra
  5. CDAC
  6. NSDL
  7. Capricorn
  8. Verasys

Important Points

  • DSC is generally made for 1 or 2 years, after expiry they need to be renewed.
  • Digitally signed documents are acceptable as proof or evidence in court.
  • A person can have two DSC, one for personal use  and other for official use.
Posted by CA Ankit Sharma under General

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