`e-Hastakshar' is a citizens' service which allows citizens to sign documents digitally. It is an online electronic signature service which can be integrated with service delivery applications via an open API to facilitate an Aadhaar holder with a registered cellphone number to digitally sign a document.

These handwritten signatures can be replaced with an electronic signature, which can be put in documents in an electronic form. This service has been launched as a part of Digital India programme.

City-based C-DAC will be the Certifying Authority under the Controller of Certifying Authorities.

It is legally acceptable under the Indian IT Act 2000 and its various rules and regulations. With this, it is now possible to quickly replace the handwritten signature with electronic signature for documents, saving time and effort.

This online service offers many advantages over the conventional paper and pen system of signing. It saves the time and effort and user can easily apply digital signature anywhere which makes it very convenient and accessible.

Since it requires Aadhar Id, the system is authenticated and the privacy concerns are taken care of.

The authentication options for eKYC include biometric (fingerprint or iris scan) or OTP (through the registered mobile in the Aadhaar database).

The e-Sign facility provides an alternative method in which it uses the data stored in Aadhaar card of the individual to authenticate the information required for issuing DSCs. It thus leads to huge saving in the time involved as the physical process of verification is no longer required. One can simply use his/her Aadhaar card to register and digitally sign any document. The authentication is based on the biometric information stored in the Aadhaar database.

The accessibility of the e-Sign facility is an added benefit. An Aadhaar holder can digitally sign documents anywhere and anytime. Also the reach of e-Sign is extensive, as Aadhaar is going to be used as unique identification document for Indian citizens. This would virtually empower every citizen of India to avail the facility of signing documents digitally in a cost and time efficient manner and through a process which doesn’t require manual verification of credentials. Online e-Sign facility can be easily integrated with Application Service Provider (ASP), thus enabling the user of that ASP to use e-Sign.

Practice question:

1. Which of the following statement related to e-sign is/are correct?
1. The IT Act provides for the Controller of Certifying Authorities(CCA) to license and regulate the working of Certifying Authorities.
2. Electronic signing capability can automatically detect even minor altering thus bring more transparency.
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Both

d) None

Ans: c
Exp: As per Section 18 of The Information Technology Act, 2000 provides the required legal sanctity to the digital signatures based on asymmetric cryptosystems. The digital signatures are now accepted at par with handwritten signatures and the electronic documents that have been digitally signed are treated at par with paper documents.
The IT Act provides for the Controller of Certifying Authorities(CCA) to license and regulate the working of Certifying Authorities. The Certifying Authorities (CAs) issue digital signature certificates for electronic authentication of users.
a) Enhanced security
b) Lower Transaction Cost
c) Negotiations can be speeded up because each step in the process can be authenticated and easily accessed by all parties to the contract, so that critical issues can be flagged and tracked internally until finalization;
d) Even if the parties are located far apart geographically, there is no lag time for transmission of contract updates.