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If you are familiar with eTendering on government portals like the Central Public Procurement Portal and GeM portal, then Digital Signature Certificate is something you are likely to be familiar with. A Class III Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) for tenders is what’s required and can be availed from approved Certifying Authorities in India.
Considering the rise in the number of government tenders floated throughout the year, nowadays, digital signature certificate (DSC) is a widely used term as it is a mandatory element for the e-procurement process. But, do you know the process of using DSC for e-tendering process? This article will explain what the DSC is, its relevance in the e-tendering process, and how you can use it on the CPP platform.
The article will also cover some frequently asked questions regarding DSCs.
What is a Digital Dignature Certificate?
Let us start by understanding the meaning of a Digital Signature Certificate.
The digital signature certificate is a digital signature that holds equivalent value and importance as a physical signature. In other words, if a digital document is signed using DSC, it is a legally valid document. Also, it makes the signing process effortless. For example, one does not need to sign a pile of invoices physically, instead a DSC can quickly be added.
There are three types or classes of digital signature certificates – DSC Class I, Class II and Class III. While Class I is for individuals, Class II can be obtained easily by producing KYC documents such as Aadhaar card, PAN card, etc., of the signing authority.
On the other hand, for obtaining a Class III Digital Signature Certificate, along with KYC documents one needs to appear in front of the registration authority to verify his/her identity. Once your application is processed, you receive a USB pen drive containing your DSC.
When it comes to the government eProcurement process, a DSC Class III is the only one accepted.
What is the relevance of digital signature certificates in eTendering?
The government of India and state governments have moved to online tendering i.e. e-tendering since the last few years. In the e-tendering process, DSC is commonly used to sign bid documents and other supporting documents that need signatures. Usually, the government and railway tenders require DSC Class III.
Once the bid document and related e-forms are signed using the digital signature certificate, it is established that the bidder has read the tender documents and has understood the details. And the signing authority takes responsibility for the bid.
How to use a digital signature for e-procurement?
A digital signature for participating in the bidding process is mandatory. Hence, if you want to submit a tender application, you need to register your DSC Class III on the eProcurement platform.
There are several Certifying Authorities (CAs) from whom you can get a Class 2 and Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate. The popular CAs for DSCs are: eMudhra, V-Sign (Verasys), NSDL, SafeScrypt, National Informatics Center (NIC).
Once you have obtained your DSC, here are the steps for registration it on the CPP platform (DSC registration example):
Step 1: Install DSC software on your computer. This is a key step as without this, you will not be able to proceed with the registration.
Step 2: Log in to the CPP portal with your existing login id and password. Enter captcha.
Step 3: Once you log in, a window will intimate you that ‘You have not registered DSC yet.’ Click on ‘Signing certificate’.
Step 4: A pop-up window will appear, which will confirm if you want to continue. Click on ‘Continue’.
Step 5: A pop-up window will appear and ask if you want to run the software. Click on ‘Yes’.
Step 6: Select the DSC that you want to register. Once it is done, you will receive a message suggesting ‘DSC is enrolled successfully.’
Note: You will also need to have Java installed on your system to run the programme.
Once your DSC is successfully enrolled, you can browse through relevant tenders, shortlist the ones that match your business activities. Ensure you collate all required documents for tendering before you start filing your tender response.
Frequently asked questions regarding a digital signature certificate.
Here are some frequently asked questions about digital signature certificates.
From where you can obtain a digital signature certificate?
You can easily obtain a DSC from the government’s licensed certifying authorities. You need to produce KYC documents for the same. If you are applying for a DSC Class III, you will also need to appear in front of the licensed certifying authority for verification.
Is DSC legally valid?
Yes. The digital signature certificate is valid in the Indian court of law. All transactions and communications that are done online using the DSC are considered valid under the IT Act 2000.
What is the cost of obtaining a DSC?
The cost of obtaining a DSC may vary depending on the licenced certifying authority and the number of years for which it is issued. In general, it costs around ₹2000 to ₹5000 approximately.
What can you do when DSC’s validity period expires?
The digital signature can be revalidated from the licenced certifying authority after its validity period is over.
Where else do you need Class III DSC?
- Signing web forms
- For issuing Form 16 and Form 16A to employees
- GST application
- LLP registration, etc.
To conclude, it is a good idea to use a DSC for signing contracts and invoices. It ensures authenticity as well as saves time by reducing the time and effort taken for signing several pages of documents.