- eSign is effective, compliant, easy to use and saves a lot of time & effort. But what exactly is a valid electronic signature in India?
- In this post, we examine a few frequently asked questions about the technical framework and legal validity of eSign in India.
eSign, or an electronic signature, is a legally recognised and enforceable method of digitally signing agreements, forms and other documents. eSigns have helped to do away with the need for physical signatures - enabling people and businesses to enter into agreement with parties located far away, in just a matter of seconds.
Is eSign Legal in India?
Yes eSign is perfectly legal in India. This is explicitly laid down in the Information Technology Act, 2000 and implicitly laid down - for Contracts - in the Contract Act, 1872.
Digital signatures like DSC Tokens in India have legal validity under Section 3 of the IT Act. Electronic signatures like Aadhaar eSign and PAN eSign gain their validity from Schedule II of the IT Act read with Section 3A of the IT Act.
Under the IT Act - all digital signatures can also be considered electronic signatures.
Further, Section 5 of the IT Act states that where any physical signature is required for any document or record - an electronic signature under the IT Act can be used. Thus, electronic signatures are granted equivalence to wet-ink signatures under this provision.
For contractual documents where a signature is not a mandatory mode of execution (most contracts) - any electronic authentication type can be used. This is made explicitly clear in Section 10A of the IT Act.
For a detailed explanation of the validity of different eSign types - please visit our blogpost : Legal Validity of eSign in India
Types of eSigns
eSign types in India can be classified into 2 different categories:
Commonly used Tier 1 eSign types (IT Act recognised 'electronic signatures') are:
An eSign which uses Aadhaar credentials to verify the signer’s identity, and can be used remotely without the need of any separate physical device. All you need is a mobile or a computer. A number of regulated entities work behind the scenes to help make this possible and ensure that the eSign is safe, verifiable and secure.
- DSC Tokens
DSC Tokens, available in the form of USB devices, can be procured from certain regulated entities after performing an eKYC check with them. Once your identity is authenticated, you are issued a DSC Token secured with a password which is known only to you. The DSC Token has to be inserted into a computer to digitally sign any document.
Commonly used Tier 2 eSign types include:
- Virtual Signatures
Virtual Signatures are nothing but an electronic representation of one’s physical wet-ink signature. Service providers across the world let you affix such signatures to electronic agreements. Users are usually provided an option to either draw their signature electronically or choose from a computer-generated template of their name, which can be placed anywhere on the electronic agreement as per the user’s choice.
A clickwrap contract is an online contract in which the user signifies their consent to be bound by the terms of the contract by clicking a button – usually a “Yes / No” or an “I agree / I disagree” button.
- Email exchange
Commercial contracts are often entered into through an exchange of emails. The Supreme Court has also in various judgements accepted and reinforced the freedom that parties have to choose any method of electronic execution for entering into eContracts. In Trimex International FZE, Dubai v. Vedanta Aluminum Limited, (2010) 3 SCC 1, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of a contract entered into via an exchange of emails
How to eSign a document?
eSigning a document is quite simple with Leegality. The process is initiated by a person who is sending the document to be eSigned by the respective parties.
To affix a signature digitally on your document through Leegality, you need to follow these 4 simple steps:
Step 1: On Leegality’s dashboard, create a document you want to eSign. Alternatively, you can also upload the already created document that needs to be eSigned.
Step 2: Add signees that are needed to eSign the document
Step 3: Select the type of eSign you want to use on your doccument, e.g. Aadhaar eSign, Virtual Sign, eSign using DSC etc..
Step 4: Send the invite to the selected signees to get an eSign on the document.
Note: You can repeat the same process for yourself by adding your email ID in Step 2 of the e-signing journey