Business, Governance

How Digital Signature Works in India

Simmi Sethia is a Content Writer at LegalRastaa

Digital Signature

A digital signature basically is a mathematical scheme that is used for demonstrating the authenticity of the digital messages or the documents. A valid digital signature gives the recipient reason to believe that the message they got was created by a known sender (authentication), that the sender cannot deny having sent the message, and that the message was not altered in transit at all.

Digital signatures (DS) are the standard element of most of the cryptographic protocol suites, and they are commonly used for the software distribution, financial transactions, contract management software, and in the other cases where it is important to detect forgery or tampering.

DS are often used to implement the electronic signatures, which are a broader term that refers to any of the electronic data that carries the intent of a signature, but not all electronic signatures use the digital signatures. In some countries which include the countries like the United States, Turkey, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and the countries of the European Union, in these all countries the electronic signatures have legal significance.

DS mainly employ the asymmetric cryptography. In many instances the digital signatures provide a layer of the validation and security to the messages sent through a non-secure channel which is properly implemented, a digital signature gives the receiver a perfect reason to believe that the message was sent by the claimed sender only. Digital seals and digital signatures are equivalent to the handwritten signatures and the stamped seals. They are equivalent to the traditional handwritten signatures in many types, but the properly implemented digital signatures are basically more difficult to imitate than the handwritten type.

Digital signature schemes are cryptographically based, and they must be implemented properly to be very effective. Digital signatures can also provide the non-repudiation, meaning that the signer cannot successfully claim that they did not sign a message, while also claiming their private key remains secret, further; some of the non-repudiation schemes offer a time stamp for the digital signature, so that even if the private key is exposed to the others, the signature is still valid. Digitally signed messages may be anything representable as a bit string. The examples of these include the electronic mail, contracts, or a simple message sent via some of the other cryptographic protocol.

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The Indian laws always pay a special attention towards the security of the digital signatures and they have created some IT provisions also for the digital signatures. The IT act provisions that are related to the digital signature are as follows:

Section 3 of the IT Act made the provision for the digital signature as the authentication of the electronic records.-

(1) It is subject to the provisions of this section that any subscriber may authenticate an electronic record by affixing his own digital signature.

In IT Act, chapter 3 related to electronic governance, sections 4 and 5 are quite relevant.

Section 4 made the provision for the Legal recognition of the electronic records where any law provides that particular information or any other matter shall be in the writing, typewritten or any printed form then not-withstanding anything contained in any such law, given that the requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information or matter is—

(a) It may be rendered or made available in an electronic form.

(b) It is accessible so as to be usable for a subsequent reference.

Section 5 Legal recognition of the electronic signatures where the law provides that information or any other matter shall be authenticated by affixing the specific signature or any document should be signed or bear the signature of any person then, notwithstanding anything contained in any such law, such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied, if such of the information or matter is authenticated by the means of the electronic signatures affixed in such manner as it may be prescribed by the Central Government of India.

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The Indian penal code for the digital signature is as follows:

1) The person who dishonestly or fraudulently makes or transmits any of the electronic records or part of any of the electronic record;

  • Affixes any of the electronic signatures on any electronic record.
  • Makes any mark denoting the execution of a document or the authenticity of the electronic signature.

With the main intention of causing it to be believed that such a document or a part of the document, electronic record or  [electronic signature] was made, signed or affixed by or by the authority of a person by whom or by whose authority he knows that it was not made, signed, sealed, executed or affixed.

2) The persons who, without any lawful authority, dishonestly or fraudulently, or by cancellation or otherwise, alters any document or an electronic record in any material part thereof, after it has been made by the person, executed or affixed with [electronic signature] either by the person on his own or by any other person on his behalf, whether such person be living or dead at the time of any such alteration.

3) The person who dishonestly or fraudulently or forcefully causes any of the other person to sign, seal, execute or alter any document or an electronic record or to affix his [electronic signature] on any electronic record knowing that such person by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication.

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