The introduction of digital signatures in Indian Corporate sector for signing of tax returns and company act returns has introduced a new dimension of ambiguity. The digital certificates in India currently carry the name and e-mail ID of a person as the identity parameters. Hence a digital certificate is considered bound to the person with the specific e-mail ID. However before issue of the certificate, the Certifying Authority verifies the physical address and hence it may also be considered as part of the identity parameter locked to the certificate. 

A question arises when a person is signing “For and On behalf of a Company”, is he affixing his personal signature? or the signature of the Company? If a person is a director in multiple companies, does he use the same digital certificate for all the different signatures or does he obtain different digital certificate for each of his representative capacity? Obviously the signature of an individual cannot bind the Company and also signature of one company cannot bind the other. If the digital signature is indistinguishable for each of the signatures then it must be accepted that it is not possible to conclude if the person has affixed a signature in one capacity or the other. 

Hence it follows that a person has to carry multiple digital signatures one for each of the representative capacities in which he is expected to affix his digital signature. 

Is this practical? Or Does it require an amendment of law” or a change in the Digital Certificate configuration?..are the new areas of debate that we can start in India now. Of course the debate will be meaningful only when people understand the nuances of the digital signatures which will take some more time. 

Until then we need to live with the confusion. 

Naavi

(http://www.naavi.org)

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