The Information Technology Act, 2000 provides for use of Digital Signatures on the documents submitted in electronic form in order to ensure the security and authenticity of the documents filed electronically.
Certification Agencies are appointed by the office of the Controller of Certification Agencies (CCA) under the provisions of IT Act, 2000. As such, all filings done by the companies under MCA21 e-Governance programme are required to be filed with the use of Digital Signatures by the person authorised to sign the documents.
There are a total of seven Certification Agencies authorised by the CCA to issue the Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs). The details of these Certification Agencies are available on the portal of the Ministry www.mca.gov.in.
The Ministry of Company Affairs has stipulated a Class-II or above category certificate for e-filings under MCA21. A person who already has the specified DSC for any other application can use the same for filings under MCA21 and is not required to obtain a fresh DSC.
The DSCs are typically issued with one year validity and two year validity. It includes the cost of medium (a UBS token which is a one time cost), the cost of issuance of DSC and the renewal cost after the period of validity. The company representatives and professionals required to obtain DSCs are free to procure the same from any one of the approved Certification Agencies as per the web site. The issuance costs in respect of each Agency vary and are market driven.