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· 13 min read

All You Need to Know About Aadhaar eSign

Aadhaar eSign was introduced to address the need for a scalable and user-friendly electronic signature solution in India. Aadhaar eSign aligned with the government's Digital India initiative, aimed at promoting digital literacy and facilitating digital transactions across the nation.

Aadhaar, the unique biometric identification system in India had already gained widespread acceptance and coverage across the country. Integrating electronic signatures with Aadhaar made it easier to leverage the existing infrastructure and reach a vast user base.

With Aadhaar eSign, Individuals can use their Aadhaar number and registered mobile number to sign documents electronically. The eSign service utilizes the Aadhaar-based e-KYC (Know Your Customer) authentication to verify the identity of the signer. Aadhaar eSign offers a convenient and legally recognized method for signing documents electronically in compliance with the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Benefits of Aadhaar eSign:

  • Convenience: Aadhaar eSign offered a seamless and easy-to-use electronic signature process. It allowed people to digitally sign documents from anywhere, anytime, using their Aadhaar credentials.
  • Cost-Effective: Unlike traditional DSC tokens that required additional costs for purchase and delivery, Aadhaar eSign provided a cost-effective solution since it utilized the existing Aadhaar infrastructure.
  • Secure and Legally Valid: Aadhaar eSign used biometric authentication and cryptographic techniques, ensuring a high level of security and making the digital signatures legally valid and enforceable under the IT Act.
  • Financial Inclusion: Aadhaar eSign played a crucial role in enabling financial inclusion by simplifying the process of digitally signing documents for various financial transactions, such as opening bank accounts, availing loans, and making digital payments.
  • Paperless Transactions: Aadhaar eSign contributed to reducing paperwork and promoting a paperless environment, supporting environmental sustainability.

Aadhaar eSign Process:

Aadhaar eSign is a service provided by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The platform involves authenticating the signer's Aadhar credentials and obtaining their consent to sign the document. This process may require the signer to enter their Aadhar number, OTP (One-Time Password),and/or biometric verification, depending on the implementation.

How does Aadhaar eSign makes your Contracts signing easier and reliable?

All you need is your Aadhaar Number and linked phone or email id to sign contracts. Each signature is uniquely tied to your Aadhaar making it super secure. It is like having your fingerprint on every document but without the ink.

Legal Recognition of Aadhaar eSign:

Aadhaar eSign obtained legal recognition when it was included in the Second Schedule of the IT Act through Gazette Notification No. 2015 Jan – GSR 61(E), dated January 27, 2015. This notification was titled "Electronic Signature or Electronic Authentication Technique and Procedure Rules, 2015.

Information Technology Act 2000 sections applicable:

This is the primary legislation in India that governs electronic transactions and provides legal recognition to digital signatures. It defines digital signatures, lays down the framework for their use, and establishes the role of Certifying Authorities. The Act recognizes digital signatures as a valid form of authentication and deems them to have the same legal standing as hand written signatures.

Section 3A: outlines the essential requirements for a valid electronic signature.

Section 4: Provides legal recognition to electronic records, establishing their validity in the eyes of the law.  

Section 5: Provides legal recognition to electronic signatures. According to this provision, if any law requires a document to bear the physical signature of the concerned individual, such authentication can be considered valid if it is accomplished through a digital signature, following the prescribed methods set by the Central Government.

Section 10A: Confers validity to contracts formed through electronic means, reinforcing the legal acceptance of agreements conducted electronically.

The Indian Evidence Act 1872 sections applicable:

The Evidence Act 1872 contains provisions that provide a strong legal basis for the acceptance and admissibility of e-signatures as evidence in Legal proceedings. They ensure that electronic records with e-signatures are treated on par with physical documents signed by hand, thus facilitating the transition to a digital and paperless environment.

Section 47A: Opinion as to Digital signature, when relevant: When the Court has to form an opinion as to the Electronic signature of any person, the opinion of the Certifying Authority which has issued the Electronic Signature Certificate is a relevant fact.

Section 59A: This provision was inserted into the Evidence Act in 2018 and states that any document containing an electronic signature, as defined in the Information Technology Act, 2000, shall be deemed to be a document duly signed. This provision recognizes the legal validity of e-signatures in the same manner as physical signatures.

Section 65A: Special provisions as to evidence relating to electronic record: This section deals with the admissibility of electronic records and provides that electronic records, including those with e-signatures, can be admitted as evidence in court. The section specifies the conditions under which electronic records can be deemed as primary evidence.

Section 65B: Admissibility of electronic records: This provision sets out the requirements for the admissibility of electronic evidence, including e-signatures. It specifies the conditions for the authenticity of electronic records and requires a certificate to be produced, confirming the accuracy of the electronic record and the integrity of the e-signature.

Section 85A: Presumption as to electronic agreements: This section states that where a document is required by law to be signed or attested, an e-signature can fulfil that requirement. It recognizes the legal validity of e-signatures in fulfilling the signature or attestation requirement for documents.

Section 85B: Presumption as to electronic records and electronic signatures.

Section 85C: Presumption as to electronic signature certificates.

Which Industries can use Aadhaar eSign?

Aadhaar eSign offers its unique digital signature benefits to a wide range of industries in India. It offers a secure and convenient way to sign documents digitally and its versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of industries. Here are some of the key industries that leverage Aadhaar eSign:

Financial Services:

  • Banking: Account opening, loan applications, disclaimers, and KYC document verification.
  • Insurance: Policy issuance, renewal forms, claims processing, and customer agreements.
  • Securities: Investment contracts, mutual fund applications, and account opening documents.

Government Services:

  • E-governance: Online applications, forms, permits, licenses, and property registrations.
  • Direct benefit transfers: Aadhaar-linked bank accounts can be used for secure pay-outs of subsidies and welfare programs.
  • Tax filing: Income tax returns and other related documents can be digitally signed.

Telecommand Utilities:

  • Customer verification: SIM card registrations, subscription agreements, and post-paid bill payments.
  • Service requests: Online applications for new connections, disconnections, and service modifications.

Healthcare:

  • Patient consent forms: For surgeries, medication administration, and other procedures.
  • Medical records: Secure electronic medical records and prescriptions.
  • Telemedicine: Verifying patient identity and doctor's credentials during online consultations.

Education:

  • Enrolment forms and agreements: Streamlining registration for schools and universities.
  • Leave applications and consent forms: Efficient communication between parents and educational institutions.
  • Degree certificates and transcripts: Secure and tamper-proof digital documents.

Other Industries:

  • Real estate: Rental agreements, property sale contracts, and lease agreements.
  • Human Resources: Offer letters, employment contracts, performance appraisals, and other HR documents.
  • Legal and Professional Services: Client agreements, contracts, affidavits, and other legal documents.
  • Retail: Purchase agreements, receipts, and warranty documents.

Exclusion: It is important to note that while Aadhaar eSign can be used for a wide variety of documents, there are a few exceptions listed in Schedule I of the IT Act 2000 such as wills, negotiable instruments and documents related to the sale of immovable property.

Regulatory Framework: Who makes it work?

  1. The Chief Regulator:
    Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA): This government entity, under the Ministry of IT oversees the entire eSign ecosystem in India. It sets standards, issues licenses and ensures compliance.
  2. The ID Provider:
    Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI): This authority manages the Aadhaar database and provides secure identity verification services during the eSign process. They confirm the signer's identity using Aadhaar data.
  3. The Certificate Issuers:
    Certifying Authorities (CAs): Only two CAs are currently authorized to issue eSign certificates for online Aadhaar use: NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited (NSDL e-Gov) and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). These certificates bind the signature to the signer's Aadhaar identity.
  4. Application Service Providers:
    Application Service Providers like Contractzy provide user-friendly tool and interface for individuals and businesses to easily eSign contracts.

Secure and Tamper-evident:

In general, electronic signatures, including Aadhaar eSign, are designed to be secure and tamper-evident. They use cryptographic techniques to ensure the integrity of the signed document and the identity of the signer. When a document is electronically signed using Aadhaar eSign, it creates a unique digital signature that is linked to the signer's Aadhaar number. Copying an Aadhaar eSign from one document to another is not supposed to be feasible without compromising the cryptographic security mechanisms in place. If someone attempts to copy an eSign from one document and paste it onto another, the cryptographic verification process should fail, as the digital signature won't match the content of the new document.

Got an Aadhaar eSigned document you need to use in court? Don't worry, it's just like any other piece of evidence! Here's what you need to know:

  1. Follow the Rules: Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act talks about how to handle electronic evidence. Make sure your document meets its requirements.
  2. Gather Proof: Keep records of the eSigning process, like timestamps and confirmations. This helps prove the document's authenticity.

Difference between Aadhaar eSign and Normal Wet Signature

Aadhaar Esign Normal Wet Signature
An electronic signature relying on Aadhaar details for authentication. A handwritten signature using pen and ink on a physical document.
Utilizes Aadhaar number and biometric/OTP authentication. Represents a physical manifestation of consent or agreement.
Primarily used for digital and online transactions. Commonly used for physical documents and contracts.
Uses Aadhaar biometrics or OTP for authentication, enhancing security. Security varies and can be forged or copied.
Legally recognized in India under the Information Technology Act, 2000. Generally legally valid in most countries, including India.
Offers convenience, especially for remote or digital transactions. Less convenient for international or remote transactions.
Eliminates the need for physical presence. May require physical presence or mailing of documents.
Documents are typically in digital format, easy to store, share, and manage electronically. Physical documents with wet signatures may require additional handling, storage, and potential scanning for digital record-keeping.
Veda Dalvi
Hello, I'm Veda, the Legal Content Writer with a knack for decoding the complex world of laws. A coffee aficionado and a lover of sunsets, oceans and the cosmos. Let's navigate the Legal Universe together!

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