What is Electronic Signature ?

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Audit Trail & Compliance

As per Rule 46 (q) of CGST Rules, 2017: “Signature or digital signature of the supplier or his authorised representative” was required on Invoice.

 

With advent of technology there are more ways of authenticating the documents. One of them is authenticating the documents / invoices with “Electronic signature”. There are lot of companies which had started using electronic signatures for issuing the invoices. However, even after authenticating these documents with the electronic signature, the taxpayer were required to put actual signature or digital signature on the invoices as per the Rule 46 of the CGST Rules, 2017.

This rule has been amended vide Notification No. 74/2018 Central Tax Dated 31st December, 2018 to add a proviso which states as under- 

Available for download at https://www.cbic.gov.in/resources//htdocs-cbec/gst/notfctn-74-central-tax-english-2018.pdf

“Provided also that the signature or digital signature of the supplier or his authorised representative shall not be required in the case of issuance of an electronic invoice in accordance with the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000).”

So, now as per amended rules, there were three ways of authenticating the invoice 

1. Actual signature 

2. Digital signature

3. Electronic Signatures

The Information Technology Act, 2000 has made provisions for electronic signatures which different from the “digital signature”. 

Section 2(ta) of IT Act’2000: “Electronic signature means authentication of any electronic record by a subscriber by means of the electronic technique specified in the Second Schedule and includes digital signature”.

It is important to note that the Information Technology Act, 2000 validates the electronic signatures only of the issuer has following reliable process (Section 3-A of Information Technology Act, 2000) -

(a) the signature creation data or the authentication data are, within the context in which they are used, linked to the signatory or , as the case may be, the authenticator and of no other person;

(b) the signature creation data or the authentication data were, at the time of signing, under the control of the signatory or, as the case may be, the authenticator and of no other person;

(c) any alteration to the electronic signature made after affixing such signature is detectable

(d) any alteration to the information made after its authentication by electronic signature is detectable; and

(e) it fulfills such other conditions which may be prescribed

 

Thus, the taxpayer can issue invoice with the “electronic Signature” subject to having reliable system as mentioned above or with “digital signature” or with “actual signature”.

Similar provisions are applicable for Bill of supply/ Ticket/ consolidated Tax invoice/ Sales Quote/ Purchase Orders / Point of Sale (POS) / Credit Notes / Debit Notes  or any other document.

How does Estado Software(s) comply with provisions of "Electronic Signature" ?

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The Estado Software(s) is a paperless system, with full audit records and controls. 

 

  1. No changes are permitted after document is Validated , i.e. after the Authorised by Signature is applied.

  2. Corrections, if specifically permitted are recorded and mentioned in the document. 

    1. Entering / altering the Client PO details​

    2. Entering / altering E-way Bill details

  3. The Employee Name (obtained from current login ID, which is password protected) and timestamp is recorded for each signature, namely

    1. Person who created the document​

    2. Person who authorised the document

    3. Person who is printing and/or emailing the document.

  4. Email is sent by the system to the registered email entered in the system.