Cyber Laws- Electronic Record and E-Governance

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According to the definition of E-governance provided by the World Bank, it is the approach of the governmental agencies to use technologies related to communication and information for the purpose of transforming and strengthening relations with businesses, citizens, and other governmental agencies. The IT Act, 2000, defines one of its prime objectives as electronic governance or e-governance promotion. Let us discuss electronic records and E-governance in detail.

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Mention of e-Governance and Associated Provisions in the IT Act, 2000

To know what an e-record is, it is important to understand the electronic record's meaning. The electronic record meaning is best described in the legal recognition of electronic records, digital signatures, and associated topics, for which the following provisions of the IT Act, 2000 was formulated.

  • Legal Recognition of Electronic Records (Mentioned in Section 4 of the Act)

For any important point to become a law, it is needed to be written, printed, or typewritten. It can also be considered to be a law if the information is provided in an electronic form. However, the electronic form must be accessible all the time for subsequent referencing.

  • Legal Recognition of Signatures (Mentioned in Section 5 of the Act)

Most of the documents related to a person are authenticated by his or her signature. If the person can produce a digital form of his signature acceptable by the central government, then the person is legally allowed to validate the documents with the digital signature. This is the summary of the legal recognition of digital signature provision.

  • Application of Digital Signature and Electronic Records in Government and its Agencies (Mentioned in Section 6 of the Act)

According to this provision, if the law allows a person 

  • To fill an application, form, or document related to Government authorities or related agencies,

  • To issue or grant sanction, license, approval, or permit in a particular way,

  • To Pay or receive money in a certain manner

then the person can certainly do so in an electronic form if he maintains the government-approved format.  

Additionally, the manner and format of creating, issuing, and filing electronic records, and the methods of payment of fees for the same may be prescribed.

  • Retention of Electronic Records (Mentioned in Section 7 of the Act)

The law can also retain the electronic form of any information, document, or record if it needs to do so. Retention of records can take place if the records are accessible and available for subsequent referencing, the format of the information is unchanged, or accurately represent the original information, and adequate information of the destination, origin, and date and time of receipt or dispatch of the record. The law does not hold for automatically generated information related to the dispatch or receipt of the record. However, the provision does not apply to laws that expressively provide for electronic retention of documents, records, and information.

  • Publications of rules and regulations in Electronic Gazette (mentioned in Section 8 of the Act)

If the law requires to publish any official rule, regulation, notification, by-law and related matters in the Official Gazette, then it can also do so in the Electronic Gazette. The publication date of such rules and regulations will be the same as its first published date in any form of the Gazette.

  • Section 6, 7, and 8 does not Provide the Right to insist Acceptance of an Electronic Form of the Document (Mentioned in Section 9 of the Act)

The previous sections 6, 7, and 8 do not grant the right to any person to insist on the issuance, acceptance, retention, or creation of any document or monetary transactions directly from the central or the state government, ministry of the department, or associated agencies.

  • Provide Power to the Central Government to Make Rules for Legal Recognition of Digital Signatures (Mentioned in Section 10 of the Act)

According to the IT Act, 2000, the central government has the power to prescribe:

  • Format and manner of affixation of the digital signature.

  • Digital signature type.

  • Identification procedure for the person who affixes the digital signature.

  • Determines the procedures to justify the security, integrity, and confidentiality of electronic records.

  • Any other legal procedures for digital signature.

Data Protection

According to Section 43A of the IT Act, 2000, if the body responsible for maintaining the security of personal information and data in a computer resource show negligence leading to wrongful gain or loss, then the body is liable for paying damages as compensation up to 5 crore rupees.  Additionally, the Government of India incorporated the Information Technology Rules, 2011, under section 43A of the IT Act, 2000, which applies the rules of security to all corporate bodies in India.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What is E-Record?

Ans: The best way to define what is e-record is to assign the term to all the legal procedures, documents, and information that can be accessed and later referenced online. According to the electronic record meaning, it can be personal information, professional information, contact details, legal history, etc. A new form of electronic record is a digital signature. The Indian IT Act, 2000, has devoted special provisions for the legal recognition of electronic records. It also defines on what basis it can be applied and who holds power to modify them according to the need of the situation. 

Q2. What Provisions does the Information Technology Act, 2000 have for Electronic Records?

Ans: The Information Technology Act, 2000, recognizes electronic records by its seven provisions (Section 4-10). It provides information on legal recognition to electronic records, digital signatures, application of electronic records and digital signatures, retention of electronic records, the publication of rules and regulations in the Electronic Gazette, and the power of the Central Government of India to prescribe changes in the format and associated aspects of the digital signature. However, the Act debars the right of a person to insist on digital signatures during any governmental transactions or transaction with its associated agencies.

Q3. Can a Person insist on Using a Digital Signature for Work with Official Governmental Documents?

Ans: The Information Technology Act, 2000, allows for the recognition of the electronic records and digital signatures in the official records and documents. However, the Act does not grant any person to insist on the use of digital signatures in any document or money related transaction with the Central or the State government or any of their official agencies. The law rather provides the Central government with the power to prescribe and make amends to the format and type of digital signatures that are accepted. They can also determine the identification procedure of the person providing the signature.