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This article is written by Vedanshi Dagar, an intern under Legal Vidhiya


The advent of digital media has brought a transformative change to various aspects of our lives in terms of online platform communication and connection among everybody. The wide range connectivity is not limited by geographical boundaries and has been investigated considerably more broadly and fast than ever before. Electric, often known as e-commerce, is the traditional method of establishing a wide network and is related with the buying and selling of items, information, and services using computerized networks.

Keywords: digital media, geographical boundaries, e-commerce, computerized networks.


The objective of this research paper is to explore and analyse the future prospects of online contracts and e-signatures in the context of evolving digital technologies and legal frameworks. The research aims to examine the current state of online contracting and e-signatures, identify potential challenges and opportunities, and provide insights into the anticipated advancements and trends that will shape the future landscape. By investigating the benefits, legal implications, and technological advancements related to online contracts and e-signatures, this research seeks to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of their potential impact on commerce, legal practices, and consumer experiences in the digital age.


It is rightly quoted that, “Embrace the transformative power of the digital age and step into a world where technology intertwines seamlessly with every aspect of our lives.” The digital revolution has become so wide that it has started to dominate the way business is conducted, including creation and execution of contracts. Online media is spreading its awareness till the miniscule corners of the world, and with that speed, the legal system of the nation isn’t holding back its opportunistic goal. There are multiple case laws since late 90’s as well which are demanding the evolution of technology in the legal frameworks. From India’s first online court-proceeding took in the ‘civil court on Bhadra in 20071, to the India’s first paperless court in Kerela in 20222, the whole framework of legislation in India has changed.

Speaking of online contracts and e-signature, the nation has witnessed many case laws of advanced technology. The court in many instances recognized the validity of the contracts formed through electric communication as valid while on the other hand has also criticized by pointing out loopholes in the same. But, as it’s said that, ‘we tell the version of the story that makes us good,’ but unfortunately this is not the case with legal hearings.

Legal Framework for Online Contracts:

The framework of law in India for online contracts provides a strong foundation for electronic commerce and digital transactions. The IT Act, Indian Contract Act, and related guidelines establish the legal validity and enforceability of online contracts, as well as data protection, consumer rights, and dispute resolution. The legal framework’s goal is to create confidence, safeguard parties’ interests, and give clarity in the ever-changing landscape of online transactions. To ensure the legality and enforceability of their online contracts, firms, and individuals must understand and comply with certain legal restrictions.

An overview of key legislation and rules governing online contracts

A variety of laws and regulations govern online contracts, protecting consumer protection and setting legal frameworks for electronic transactions. Here is a rundown of some pertinent legislation and regulations:

1.  Indian Contract Act (1872): The ICA is made up of all the rules that apply to contracts. This law should cover the elements required to make a contract. An e-contract is a contract that is paperless and in electronic form that covers all of the ICA specifications. An e-contract is just as legally binding as a paper contract.

2.   Indian Evidence Act (1872): It should be mentioned that electronic contracts are accepted by courts. In Societe Des Produits Nestle S.A. &… against Essar Industries & Ors 587/2016A, Sections 65A and 65B of the Indian Evidence Act were added, allowing computer-generated evidence. This was held to be disqualified for e-contract and other electronic evidence issues. In the case of Mohd. Afzal and OrsB (2003 VIIAD Delhi 1, 107 (2003) DLT 385, 2003 (71) DRJ 178, 2003 (3) JCC 1669). It was determined that electronic records are admissible in court.

3.  Indian Copyright Act, (1957): The Copyright Act governs intellectual property rights in India, including online content and digital products. Online contracts may involve the licensing or transfer of copyrights, and this Act protects the rights of creators and regulates the use of copyrighted material.

4.  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI): publishes guidelines that govern online payment systems and electronic financial transfers. These criteria govern online contract transactions, such as payment processes, security standards, and dispute resolution.

5.  The Information Technology Act (2000): (also known as ITA-2000, or the IT act) the primary law in India dealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce3. Section 10A of the Information and Technology Act (2000) deals with the validity of e-contracts and their formation, revocation, and communication of proposal and acceptance in electronic form and will not be considered unenforceable on the basis that electronic form of contract was used for the specific purpose. A contract’s validity and acceptance by the contract’s parties are essential. An electronic contract requires an electronic signature4.

Rules governing online contracts: 

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) and the Indian Contract Act, 18725 control the rules governing online contracts in India. Here are some important statutes and guidelines concerning online contracts in India: 

1. Legal Validity: Section 10A, Information Technology Act,2000 provides legal recognition to electronic contracts, including online contracts. It states that contracts formed through electronic means shall not be deemed unenforceable solely because they are in electronic form6.

2. Electronic Signature: The IT Act recognizes electronic signatures as legally valid and equivalent to handwritten signatures. Under Section 3(2) Information Technology Act 2000, electronic signatures can be used to indicate the intention of a person to be bound by the terms of a contract7.

3. Communication of Proposals and Acceptances: Section 4 of the IT Act clarifies that contracts can be formed through electronic communication, including email, web forms, and other electronic means. The communication of proposals and acceptances electronically is considered valid and legally binding8.

4. Time and Place of Dispatch and Receipt: Section 13 Information Technology Act, 2000 establishes the rules for determining the time and place of dispatch and receipt of electronic records. It provides guidelines for establishing the point when an electronic record is deemed to be dispatched by the sender and when it is deemed to be received by the intended recipient9

5. Consent and Disclosure of Information: Online contracts must ensure that proper consent is obtained from the contracting parties. Additionally, as per the IT Act, 2000 and other relevant regulations, entities collecting personal information through online contracts are required to provide clear disclosure about the purpose, usage, storage, and protection of personal data.

6. E-commerce Regulations: The IT Act 2000, along with the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, and related rules, govern e-commerce transactions in India. These regulations cover various aspects, including disclosure of information, return and refund policies, grievance redressal mechanisms, and consumer protection.

7. Jurisdiction and Applicable Law: Online contracts should specify the jurisdiction and the applicable law in case of disputes. It is essential to determine the appropriate jurisdiction and ensure compliance with Indian law when drafting online contracts.

 Comparing legal regimes in various jurisdictions

Participating in cross-border transactions raises the issue of the legitimacy of electronic signatures in corporate processes and contract agreements in a digital environment across boundaries.  Comparing the legal systems governing online contracts in various jurisdictions can reveal similarities and differences in approach. Here is a comparison of several significant features:

  1. Legal Recognition: Many nations, including the United States, the European Union, and India, recognize internet contracts’ legal validity and enforcement. The specific regulation differs, for example, the ESIGN Act in the United States, the EU E-Commerce Directive in the European Union, and the IT Act in India10.
  2. Data Protection: Sovereign countries have their own data-protection frameworks and focal points when it comes to regulating privacy. Different laws control the protection of personal data in online contracts, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)11, which establishes stringent criteria for the handling of personal data. Other nations, such as India, have data protection laws and guidelines that require firms that handle personal information to follow them. 
  3. Liabilities and Dispute Resolution: The liabilities of parties involved in online contracts, as well as dispute resolution methods, differ among jurisdictions. Some nations have particular legislation addressing liability and dispute resolution in online transactions, whereas others depend on the existing contract and consumer protection rules.
  4. Electronic Signatures: The adoption and recognition of electronic signatures varies by jurisdiction. Some countries, such as the United States, have explicit legislation certifying the legal impact of electronic signatures, such as the ESIGN Act and UETA. The eIDAS Regulation establishes the legal validity of electronic signatures among EU member states in the European Union.
  5. Jurisdictional Issues: Determining the proper jurisdiction and controlling legislation for online contracts can be difficult. International transactions may contain conflict-of-law issues as well as the application of choice of law and non-uniform authentication.

Examination of case laws and court decisions on online contracts’ validity

Because of the fast-growing nature of internet contracts, several case laws and court decisions have explored their legitimacy and enforceability. While specific instances and judgments may differ depending on the authority. 

In the past, there were many case laws of online contracts and their validations. Starting with one famous case law related to online contracts and e-signature in specific in India is the case of Trimex International Fze Ltd. v. Vedanta Aluminium Ltd.2010 2010 [(2) AWC 1170 (SC), JT 2010 (1) SC 474, (2010) 1 MLJ 1322 (SC), 2010 (1) SCALE 574, (2010) 3 SCC 1, 2010 (2) UJ 655 (SC)]. The case was heard by the High Court of Delhi in 2010C

Trimex International, a company based in the United Arab Emirates, had engaged in an online contract with Vedanta Aluminium, an Indian firm, in this case. The contract was for the supply of bauxite. However, a disagreement developed between the parties regarding the contract’s fulfillment. The major question before the court was whether the internet contract was legally enforceable. Trimex International claimed that the contract was made through an email conversation and that the terms and conditions were agreed upon by both parties. Vedanta Aluminium, on the other side, claimed that there was no legitimate contract because the necessary conditions of a contract were not met.

The Delhi High Court ruled in favor of Trimex International, stating that an internet contract can be formed through email conversations and is legally binding. The court stated that email conversations can satisfy the offer, acceptance, and consideration conditions for the establishment of a contract. It emphasized that the parties’ intention to be bound by the terms of the contract was critical, and in this case, the email conversations plainly revealed their intention to be legally bound.

This decision established a significant precedent in India for the legitimacy and enforcement of internet contracts. It acknowledged that electronic communications, including as emails, can be valid offers and acceptances, and that online contracts are governed by the same legal standards as traditional contracts.

Other case laws which provided a great impact can be named as; Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015), In this judgment, the Supreme Court overturned Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000, which had been heavily criticized for its ambiguous and overbroad provisions that criminalized internet expression. The decision emphasized the significance of safeguarding fundamental rights, particularly free speech, in the context of online interactions and communications. This decision had broader ramifications for the regulation of internet content and activity, including online contracts. Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2018), wherein the Supreme Court of India emphasized the evidentiary value of electronic contracts and held that electronic records, including electronic signatures, can be considered admissible evidence in court. M/s. Sanjiv Prakashan v. Poonam Sharma (2019), where the court recognized the enforceability of an arbitration agreement formed through an online contract. The court held that disputes arising from online contracts can be resolved through arbitration as per the agreement between the parties. Uber India Systems Pvt. Ltd. v. Competition Commission of India (2018), the case involved a complaint against Uber for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the ride-hailing market. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) held that the online contract between Uber and its drivers was valid, and the commission had the jurisdiction to examine the allegations. 

Perhaps, there are even cases where online contract agreements were declared null and void. In S. Ramanathan v. State Bank of India (2010), the court ruled that a contractual provision allowing the bank to unilaterally modify the terms of an online banking service without notification or approval from the consumer is unjust and unreasonable. The clause was deemed null and unenforceable by the court. M/S Shriram EPC Limited v. Rioglass Solar SA (2018), the court held that a purchase order received via email without a signed written agreement did not constitute a valid and enforceable contract. The court emphasized the importance of a proper written agreement in order to establish a binding contract.

In other cases, too, there were questions on the terms of the fact that an online contract cannot be enforced against a party who did not have the mental capacity to understand and consent to the terms at the time of entering into the contract. Terms and conditions without consent from the customer were arbitrary and unfair. 

To summarise, while there have been important judgements involving internet contracts in India, no one historical case law stands out as a landmark judgement primarily focusing on online contracts. However, decisions like Shreya Singhal v. Union of India have had an indirect impact on the legal environment surrounding online contracts, emphasizing the preservation of basic rights in the online sphere.

Validity and Enforceability of E-Signatures

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) and the rules and regulations constructed under it establish the validity and enforceability of electronic signatures in India. Sections 3, 5, 10A, and 15 of the IT Act, as well as the Information Technology (Certifying Authorities) Rules, 2000, contain pertinent requirements.

Electronic signatures are legally valid and have the same legal validity as handwritten signatures, according to the IT Act12.  They can be used to verify the authenticity of electronic data and transactions, such as online contracts. 

Recognition and validation of the e-signature

E-signatures offer one of the best chances to hasten this transition to digitalization. Individuals and organisations in India can electronically sign documents, contracts, and other transactions thanks to the acceptance of e-signatures. It aids in the streamlining of procedures, the reduction of paperwork, and the facilitation of secure and efficient online transactions.

There are two types of e-signatures that are recognized by Information Technology act, 2000:

  1.  E-signatures combined with Aadhaar and eKyc services: Indian Government issued a unique identification number to all Indian residents with an Aadhaar ID, and they can safely sign documents online using e-signature service. Delivering government-compliant certifications and authentication services is a joint effort between the online e-signature service and a recognised service provider.
  • Digital signatures generated by asymmetric crypto-system with hash code:  An ‘asymmetric crypto system’ is a secure pair of keys, one private and one public. Both are unique to each user and can be used to validate and generate an e-signature13.

There are many factors that lead to the validation of e-signatures, one of which was mentioned earlier in Part A of the types, that e-signatures must be individually associated with the individual signing the document. This criterion is frequently addressed by issuing a digital ID based on a digital certificate. Others can be referred to as “the signer must have complete control over the data used to generate the e-signature at the time of signing, because in order to meet this criterion, service providers allow signers to directly affix their e-signature to the document; an audit trail that specifies steps completed throughout the signing procedure; and a Certifying Authority (CA) recognized by the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) appointed under the IT Act, 2000 shall issue a digital signature certificate.

Case laws on E-signatures

With the rising digitization of transactions and the adoption of electronic communication technologies, the problem of e-signatures has risen to the top of legal debates. E-signatures are important for certifying and safeguarding electronic records and transactions, allowing for the rapid and convenient execution of contracts and agreements. Several notable case laws have evolved in India, altering the legal landscape regarding the legitimacy and enforceability of e-signatures. These case laws emphasize the adoption of electronic signatures in Indian courts and confirm the legal validity and enforceability of electronically signed documents. 

Starting with the case discussed in the examination of Online Contract too- Trimex International FZE Ltd. v. Vedanta Aluminium Ltd. (2010), In this case, the Supreme Court of India recognized the validity of online contracts and held that contracts formed through online auctions are legally binding. The court acknowledged the significance of electronic records, including e-signatures, as evidence of contract formation. Sri Sai Packers v. M/s. Sigma Freights Pvt. Ltd. (2016), the Madras High Court acknowledged the legal validity of digital signatures under the Information Technology Act, 2000. The court held that a digitally signed document satisfies the requirement of a valid signature and can be admissible as evidence in court. Punjab National Bank v. Rajesh Kumar Sharma (2019), the Delhi District Court recognized the validity of e-signatures and held that an electronically signed loan agreement was binding and enforceable. The court emphasized the importance of the Information Technology Act, 2000, in facilitating e-commerce and ensuring legal recognition of electronic transactions.

These rulings have provided significant interpretations and guidance on the legal framework regulating electronic signatures, covering concerns such as authentication, consent, certification, and security protocols.

Challenges and considerations

As technology advances, online contracts and e-signature have become commonplace in today’s digital landscape. While these tools provide ease and efficiency, they also introduce new obstacles and implications that must be carefully considered. This introduction lays the groundwork for delving into the complexity of online contracts and e-signatures. Exploring these issues and considerations is vital for individuals and enterprises engaging in electronic transactions, from ensuring the validity and enforceability of electronic agreements to addressing security concerns and managing regulatory obligations. Stakeholders can fully embrace the opportunities and benefits afforded by online contracts and e-signatures while reducing potential hazards in the changing world of the digital realm by recognizing and proactively addressing these concerns.

Privacy security and data protection

In the digital age, e-signature security and authentication are crucial for maintaining trust and integrity in electronic transactions. By implementing strong mechanisms to prevent unauthorised access, tampering, and fraudulent activities, stakeholders can confidently use e-signatures while minimizing risks and maintaining digital transactions’ validity and credibility. Privacy and data protection are also crucial in the digital realm, as online contracts and e-signatures involve data collection, storage, and transmission. Exploring privacy laws, regulations, and industry-recommended practices helps stakeholders understand the steps required to ensure adherence and protect personal information.

Future trends and opportunities

Future developments and potential in the field of electronic signatures and online agreements are highly anticipated. This introduction lays the groundwork for examining the new trends that will influence how we develop, administer, and carry out digital contracts. From artificial intelligence-powered contract analytics and blockchain-based smart contracts to increased user experiences and interoperability across platforms, the future holds great possibilities for optimising operations and boosting efficiency. Encryption, biometrics, and identity verification technology advancements will be crucial in boosting trust and confidence in online agreements and e-signatures as data privacy and security concerns continue to rise. By embracing these future trends, businesses and individuals can leverage the transformative power of technology to drive innovation, reduce costs, and unlock new opportunities.

Transforming the digital landscape

Looking ahead, a number of significant predictions are made regarding the development of electronic signatures and online contracts. The breakthroughs and seismic upheavals that might change the digital world in the upcoming years are predicted by these forecasts, which offer insight into such possibilities. These predictions offer useful considerations for both people and businesses, but it’s important to keep in mind that they are speculative and subject to change.

  1. Blockchain for Smart Contracts: Smart contracts will increasingly be executed and enforced using blockchain technology. Parties will be able to have faith in the validity and proper execution of contracts thanks to the immutability, transparency, and security provided by blockchain.
  2. Regulatory Adaptation: The regulatory organisations will adjust to the changing environment by creating more precise rules and frameworks for electronic signatures and online contracts. This will provide legal clarity and close any gaps or ambiguities in current regulations.
  3. Online contracts and e-signatures: will integrate strong multi-factor authentication techniques as long as data privacy issues are there. Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or face recognition, together with sophisticated encryption techniques, will boost security and guard against illegal access.
  4. Automation Increase: With the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms, online contracts will see a rise in automation. These tools will make it easier to generate, review, and negotiate contracts automatically, saving time and minimising human error.

These predictions show the potential course of electronic signatures and online contracts, which is being influenced by technological advancements, shifting commercial demands, and modernising regulatory environments. While the future is uncertain and subject to many different factors, it is important for stakeholders to stay flexible, adopt new fashions, and take advantage of opportunities brought by the developing world of digital transactions.


This research study delves into the future of online contracts and e-signatures, investigating the dramatic upheavals and possibilities that lie ahead in the digital realm. This summary offers a concise overview of the research by outlining the important conclusions discovered via the investigation and by analysing key results and insights.

The development of online contracts and e-signatures is poised to transform how we conduct business, streamline procedures, and guarantee legal compliance in this era of rapid technological advancement. Understanding the future course of these electronic agreements is crucial as businesses and people adopt digital transactions more and more. Citing the investigation of cutting-edge trends like biometrics, blockchain, and artificial intelligence, which are slated to transform the design, execution, and administration of online contracts. These technologies will be combined in a way that not only automates processes but also improves security and user experiences, creating the foundation for more dependable and effective digital transactions. The article also reveals how blockchain-based smart contracts might revolutionise the process of executing and upholding contracts. Blockchain provides the transparency, immutability, and security necessary to build trustworthy digital contracts, allowing parties to transact knowing that their agreements are valid. In order to strengthen security and guard against unauthorised access, it is becoming more important to use strong multi-factor authentication mechanisms, including biometric verification. Readers will learn a short outline of the future of electronic signatures and online contracts from this research paper. It paves the way for a deeper comprehension of the next opportunities and difficulties in the changing world of digital transactions.


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