Mohan Kale 08 August 2020
With fast computerization of billing happening around the glob, every business house is taking advantage of it therby reducing their time for preparation of bills and getting signed and posting or handing it over to clients. However, every such computer generated bill carries a note below that being system generated bill, it does not require any stamp and signature. How far it is allowed and acceptetable under any law of the country? Isn't there any clear guideline, restriction/prohibition on the same? What are the conditions under which such unstamped and unsigned bills can be issued? What is the validity of such bill? What our Information Technology Act says in this regard? If not manually then whether such bills need to be digitally signed which otherwise would not be valid?
Thanks in advance.
CA Amrita Chattopadhyay (Audit & Assurance) 08 August 2020
Most of such bills contains a disclaimer "Computer generated bills" and signature is not required. Such disclaimer is also provided in various forms which are issued by Govt. Authorities. In my opinion, such bills should be acceptable with the changing times. Since many activities are done online in the pandemic situation, such bills should be acceptable
Mohan Kale 08 August 2020
In general terms it is okay to say to accept such bills. My doubts are
1. Although the bills are computer generated does that mean no one is responsible for it? After all computer generates the bill only when data is being fed into it by some human!
2. How would one know if the bill is genuine ir fake in absence of stamp and signature of responsible/authorised person? It is likely that some one may take undue advantage of it and prepare fake bills of different business entities!
3. What is the validity of unsigned bills in terms of Indian Contract Act, 1872? Wouldn't the buyer at loosing end for very reason that the bill was unsigned and hence it could be a fake bill or no contract in absence of signature?
4. Many times such bills say that the bill is digitally signed but when you open the bill you find no signature at all! What are the rules and regulations of I.T. Act for signing any documents digitally?
5. Whether it is acceptable to auditors in audit in terms if points discussed above?
So, my simple point is what is the authenticity, genuineness and validity of such bills in view of various existing laws? Even I will start preparing comouterised bills in different names and claim expenditures, is it acceptable? And this is happening since very long, not only in pandemic situation.
Request all experts to think thouroghly from all aspects and angles and give your opinion and views. Also if it is wrong to have such bills then this can be stopped?