By- Akshay Gurnani
Advocate Amir Arsiwala has made a representation before the National Company Law Tribunal, urging it to dispense with the need for notarization of affidavits by a notary appointed under the Notaries Act and its subsequent physical filing with the paper books.
The representation states that due to the adoption of e-filing even before the pandemic, the NCLT was not a stranger to the adoption of electronic tools.
However, the weakest link in the process of e-filing, as felt during the lockdown, was the requirement of notarization of affidavits and the filing of the physical paper book containing the notarized affidavit, it has claimed.
Arsiwala has claimed that the requirement of filing of the physical paper book was the direct result of the purported requirement of notarization.
While referring to Rule 127 of the National Company Law Tribunal Rules, 2016, Arsiwala has asserted that before the NCLT, notarization by a notary appointed under the Notaries Act, 1952 was not a mandatory requirement as the same could be done by an Advocate.
Arsiwala further referred to Section 5 of the Information Technology Act along with Rule 127 to state that the deponent and the advocate may even sign the affidavit electronically.
“The procedure to affix electronic signatures onto documents has become simplified with the advent of Aadhaar e-Signing, which is legally recognized by Section 3A of the IT Act read with the Second Schedule thereto.
I would like to add that the affixing of an electronic signature upon a document automatically “locks” the document insofar as it cannot be edited further without disturbing the electronic signature. This ensures that there is no security concern or apprehension of tampering of the pleadings after it is electronically signed.”, the representation states.
While referring to Section 85B of the Evidence Act, 1872, Arsiwala has also asserted that electronic signatures were superior to physical signatures in the presence of a notary.
It is thus asserted that the NCLT is “poised to take this leap into the future” as its Rules already provide for a legal framework to support purely electronic pleadings which are affirmed by parties before advocates.
Arsiwala has urged the representations to be taken up by the Members of the NCLT, the officers of the registry, etc, and the need to file physical paper books for pleadings be dispensed with.