Validity of Invoice without Signature for the purpose of availment of input Tax Credit (ITC)

Here in this article we will discuss, Can issue of Invoice without actual signature or digital signature is the valid Tax Invoice for the purpose of availment of Input Tax Credit?

Relevant Legal Provision:

“Rule 36-Documentary requirements and conditions for claiming input tax credit”

(1) The input tax credit shall be availed by a registered person, including the Input Service Distributor, on the basis of any of the following documents, namely,-

(a) an invoice issued by the supplier of goods or services or both in accordance with the provisions of section 31;

(b) an invoice issued in accordance with the provisions of clause (f) of sub-section (3) of section 31, subject to the payment of tax;

(c) a debit note issued by a supplier in accordance with the provisions of section 34;

(d) a bill of entry or any similar document prescribed under the Customs Act, 1962 or rules made thereunder for the assessment of integrated tax on imports;

(e) an Input Service Distributor invoice or Input Service Distributor credit note or any document issued by an Input Service Distributor in accordance with the provisions of sub-rule (1) of rule 54.

(2) Input tax credit shall be availed by a registered person only if all the applicable particulars as specified in the provisions of Chapter VI are contained in the said document, and the relevant information, as contained in the said document, is furnished in FORMGSTR-2 by such person.

[Provided that if the said document does not contain all the specified particulars but contains the details of the amount of tax charged, description of goods or services, total value of supply of goods or services or both, GSTIN of the supplier and recipient and place of supply in case of inter-State supply, input tax credit may be availed by such registered per”son.]

Input tax credit

“Rule 46. Tax invoice”

-Subject to rule54, a tax invoice referred to in section 31 shall be issued by the registered person containing the following particulars, namely,-

(a) name, address and Goods and Services Tax Identification Number of the supplier; ……………………………….and

(q) signature or digital signature of the supplier or his authorised representative.

Provided also that the signature or digital signature of the supplier or his authorised representative shall not be required in the case of issuance of an electronic invoice in accordance with the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000) [The said provision has been inserted vide Notification 74/2018 CT dated 31-12-2018.]

Analysis:

In terms with the earlier provision, there was two ways for authenticating the Invoice- (a) Actual signature on the invoice; (b) Digital Signature on the Invoice. With the insertion of the new proviso, the signature or digital signature of the supplier or his authorised representative is not required in the case of issuance of an electronic invoice in accordance with the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000).”

Electronic Signature has been defined under Section 2(1)(ta) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Electronic Signature means the authentication of any electronic record by a subscriber by means of the electronic technique as specified under the Second Schedule and also includes a digital signature.

Section 5 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 states that “Where any law provides that information or any other matter shall be authenticated by affixing the signature or any document shall be signed or bear the signature of any person, then, Notwithstanding anything contained in such law, such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied, if such information or matter is authenticated by means of [electronic signature]affixed in such manner as may be prescribed by the Central Government”

Section 3A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 – Notwithstanding anything contained in section 3, but subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), a subscriber may authenticate any electronic record by such electronic signature or electronic authentication technique which—

Any electronic signature or electronic authentication technique shall be considered reliable if:

(a) the signature creation data or the authentication data are, within the context in which they are used, linked to the signatory or , as the case may be, the authenticator and of no other person;

(b) the signature creation data or the authentication data were, at the time of signing, under the control of the signatory or, as the case may be, the authenticator and of no other person;

(c) any alteration to the electronic signature made after affixing such signature is detectable

(d) any alteration to the information made after its authentication by electronic signature is detectable; and

(e) it fulfills such other conditions which may be prescribed

Section 14 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 states that Where any security procedure has been applied to an electronic record at a specific point of time, then such record shall he deemed to be a secure electronic record from such point of time to the time of verification.

Section 15 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 define Secure electronic signature—An electronic signature shall be deemed to be a secure electronic signature if—

(i) the signature creation data, at the time of affixing signature, was under the exclusive control of signatory and no other person; and

(ii) the signature creation data was stored and affixed in such exclusive manner as may be prescribed.

Explanation.–In case of digital signature, the ―signature creation data means the private key of the subscriber.

Hence, with the proviso inserted by above Notification, the actual signature or digital signature of the supplier is not required. In terms with the Information Technology Act, the electronic record shall be authenticated by  any reliable technique (Security procedure to be followed) so as to make it a secure document and ensure that the electronic record cannot be tampered with. Therefore, Input tax credit can be availed on the basis of Tax invoice not actually signed or digitally signed but containing remarks as ” Computer generated invoice and require no signature”

Views are highly appreciated. For any suggestions/comments, author may be reached at akansha.gstassist@gmail.com

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