July 2, 2011
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Now we move on to the Information Technology Act, 2000. This act permits the maintenance of registers and records in electronic mode. Such registers and records should be maintained in accordance with the provisions of the said Act. The Information Technology Act, 2000 (the IT Act) was passed interalia to provide for electronic governance. Section 3 of the Act provides for authentication of electronic records.It says that any electronic record can be authenticated by a person by affixing his digital signature. This section also provides for the minimum technology required of the digital signature. The electronic record would be converted in to a message digest, by using ‘hash function’ which is intended to ensure the integrity of the communication of the electronic record Section 4 of the IT Act says that any information or other matter required by any law to be in writing can be in electronic form. Section 5 says that where any law requires any information or other matter to be authenticated by the signature of any person, when such requirement shall be deemed to be satisfied, if such information or matter is authenticated by means of digital signature affixed in the manner provided by the Rules. Now coming to the provisions of Section 7 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which provides for retention of electronic records. The said section reads as under “(1) Where any law provides that documents, records or information shall be retained for any specific period, then, that requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such documents, records or information are retained in the electronic form, if – (a) the information contained therein remains accessible so as to be usable for a subsequent reference; (b) the electronic record is retained in the format in which it was originally generated, sent or received or in a format which can be demonstrated to represent accurately the information originally generated, sent or received; (c) the details which will facilitate the identification of the origin, destination, date and time of despatch or receipt of such electronic record are available in the electronic record: Provided that this clause does not apply to any information which is automatically generated solely for the purpose of enabling an electronic record to be despatched or received. (2) Nothing in this section shall apply to any law that expressly provides for the retention of documents, records or information in the form of electronic records.” It has to be further noted that the section 9 of the of the Information Technology Act, 2000 inter alia provides that section 7 does not confer any right upon any person to insist that any Government Ministry or Department or statutory authority should accept any document in the form of electronic records.