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Question: Discuss the law relationship to digital signatures as provided in Indian Evidence Act. [UPJS 2023]Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Discuss the law relationship to digital signatures as provided in Indian Evidence Act.]AnswerThe Indian Evidence Act, 1872 recognizes the concept of digital signatures and their legal validity through specific provisions. Digital signatures are crucial in the digital age for authentication and the establishment of...

Question: Discuss the law relationship to digital signatures as provided in Indian Evidence Act. [UPJS 2023]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Discuss the law relationship to digital signatures as provided in Indian Evidence Act.]

Answer

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 recognizes the concept of digital signatures and their legal validity through specific provisions. Digital signatures are crucial in the digital age for authentication and the establishment of the authenticity and integrity of electronic records and documents. The relevant provisions in the Indian Evidence Act that pertain to digital signatures are primarily found in Section 85A and Section 85B.

Section 85A - Presumption as to electronic agreements:

Section 85A of the Indian Evidence Act states:

"The Court shall presume that every electronic record purporting to be an agreement containing the electronic signature of the parties was so concluded by affixing the electronic signature of the parties."

This provision establishes a legal presumption that in any legal proceedings involving an electronic record that appears to be an agreement with the electronic signatures of the parties, the court shall presume that the agreement was concluded by affixing the electronic signatures of the parties. This presumption simplifies the process of establishing the authenticity and validity of electronic agreements in court.

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

Section 85B of the Indian Evidence Act states:

“(1) In any proceedings involving a secure electronic record, the Court shall presume unless the contrary is proved, that the secure electronic record has not been altered since the specific point of time to which the secure status relates.
(2) In any proceedings involving a secure digital signature, the Court shall presume unless the contrary is proved that:
(a) the secure electronic signature is affixed by the subscriber with the intention of signing or approving the electronic record;
(b) except in the case of a secure electronic record or a secure electronic signature, nothing in this section shall create any presumption relating to the authenticity and integrity of the electronic record or any electronic signature.”

These provisions in Section 85B establish important presumptions related to electronic records and electronic signatures:

Subsection (1) presumes that a secure electronic record, in any legal proceeding, has not been altered since a specific point in time unless there is evidence to the contrary. This presumption supports the integrity and reliability of secure electronic records in court.

Subsection (2) deals specifically with secure digital signatures. It presumes that a secure digital signature is affixed by the subscriber with the intention of signing or approving the electronic record unless proven otherwise. However, it also clarifies that these presumptions do not extend to creating presumptions about the authenticity and integrity of the electronic record or any electronic signature, except in the case of a secure electronic record or a secure electronic signature.

These provisions collectively highlight the legal recognition and importance of electronic records and electronic signatures in the Indian legal system while also emphasizing the need to establish authenticity and integrity when dealing with electronic evidence in legal proceedings.

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Mayank Shekhar

Mayank is an alumnus of the prestigious Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Under his leadership, Legal Bites has been researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, competitions, and seminars.

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