The use of electronic signatures is gaining momentum in Bangladesh, but the laws dealing with them are still being expanded. Electronic signatures are recognized under the country’s Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 (ICT Act), meaning they can be used to sign any documents that require a signature, subject to certain exceptions.
While the ICT Act is the primary legislation dealing with electronic signatures in Bangladesh, also relevant are the Information Technology (Certifying Authority) Rules 2010 (CA Rules); National Information and Communication Technology Policy 2018; and the Certification Practice Statement published by the Office of the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA). At this time there is no case law that deals with electronic or certificate-based digital signatures.
The ICT Act uses the terms electronic signature and digital signature interchangeably. In fact, the Bengali version of the ICT Act refers to “electronic signature” whereas the English version uses “digital signature”. According to the Act, electronic signatures (or digital signatures, in the English version) must be able to:
- identify the signatory;
- affix with the signatory uniquely;
- be created in a safe manner or using means under the sole control of the signatory; and
- be related with the attached data in such a manner that is capable of identifying any alteration made in the data thereafter.
Any type of electronic signature will be treated as ineffective if the electronic record related to it is tampered with or amended.
In Bangladesh, several use cases require a traditional signature. In others, such as dealing with public sector entities, the requirements will vary from case to case.
Transacting with public sector entities
Bangladesh has no fixed requirements or restrictions for using digital or electronic signatures when dealing with Government entities. However, restrictions may apply depending on the particular department’s terms of engagement. Also, under the ICT Act, the Government and its agencies have no obligation to accept documents in an electronic form.
Use cases that generally require a traditional signature
There are certain types of documents or agreements that cannot by law be signed or executed electronically in Bangladesh. Such documents generally require the person executing them to be physically present before the Government office in question, or to provide a thumb impression along with a “wet signature”. Examples of these documents may include:
- Power of Attorney;
- Deed of Sale in relation to immovable property;
- Agreements where stamp duty is payable;
- Documents which need to be signed before the notary public and/or witnessed.
- Documents relating to legal proceedings which need to be sworn before an affidavit commissioner.
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