Authentication of Electronic Records: Limitations of Indian Legal Approach

Farooq A. Mir, M. Tariq Banday


Paper based documents have inherent authenticity and high evidentiary value for obvious reasons. The documents are  permanent record of the contractual relationship of the parties and their contents cannot be so easily altered, modified  or changed and even if any change is effected that can be easily detected. This is the reason that the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 excludes oral evidence in presence of documentary evidence. The moot point is that can an electronic record be treated equivalent to paper based record? In other words, can an electronic record have all the properties of the physical document appended with the hand written signature? This is necessitated by the fact that there are different laws in India providing that a contract is not valid unless it is in writing and signed by the parties. An attempt is made in this paper to analyze the provisions prescribing authentication of electronic records in India to demonstrate inherent limitations in them. To overcome these limitations, a new model of authentication is proposed which is based on digital signature combined with time stamping service.


Authentication, Digital Signature, Electronic Signature, Time Stamping Service.

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