Cyber Evidence Archival Center (CEAC)
Cyber Evidence Archival Center or CEAC is a Brick and Click service for preserving electronic documentary evidence for use in legal proceedings.
The Information Technology Act-2000 (ITA-2000) applicable in India has provided legal recognition to Electronic documents. However, for an electronic document to be admissible as evidence in a court of law, there are certain formalities to be completed. The Supreme Court of India in the P.K.Basheer case has confirmed that a certificate under Section 65B of Indian Evidence Act is mandatory for admission of any electronic document as evidence.
CEAC represented by Naavi is the first organization/individual in India to have proposed this “Litigation Support service” and the service has been made available from around 2002 though it was first used in a Court in 2004.
When this service was first introduced, the digital signature system had not been in place. So some of the services such as “Certified E Mail Delivery Service” (CEDS) were offered to be used in substitution of digitally signed e-mails.
Subsequently when the digital signature systems became available, there were still certain issues of acceptability. For example, having a digital certificate and using it against an outgoing e-mail will not provide sufficient evidence if the addressee contends that he has not received the mail. Hence services like CEDS continues to be relevant.
Any litigant who produces an electronic document in a Court of law in India is required to provide the certification under Section 65B of Indian evidence Act. The value of such certificate will be higher when produced by a trusted third party like CEAC.
Any person (including a business entity) who wants to use electronic documents in the form of E-Mails, Web Pages or SMS or WhatsApp kind of messaging systems as means of communication that may be required to be proved later in a Court of law (eg: “Notices” ” may use the services such as Certified E Mail Delivery.
The Certified E-Mail Forwarding Service is a critical service requirement for Companies who send out e-mail notices of various kinds to their customers and would like them to be available for future legal use. Online Stock brokers sending contract notes by e-mail, Banks and Financial Institutions sending default notices, Insurance Companies sending premium notices are examples of such Companies.
In a recent instance a Court suggested to a petitioner to send a notice to the respondent through e-mail since the respondent was not in India and CEAC’s Certified E Mail Delivery System was used for the purpose.
No. This Service is Not a Notary Service under the Notaries Act 1952. The certification process used by CEAC will follow the principles enunciated in Information Technology Act 2000
a) E-Mail sent to
i) another E-Mail or
ii) a Physical Address in India.
b) E-mail received
c) Web Page
d) Certified E-Mail Forwarding from Companies to E-mail addresses in India.
e) Any other electronic document visible through a device.
Remote Certification refers to the certification of contents of an electronic document requiring a virtual visit of a computer. Typically, when the contents are in the e-mail box or desktop of a computer the owner of which cannot physically be present along with the official of CEAC who provides the certification, an arrangement will be made for the virtual visit of the concerned electronic document under the authority of the owner of the document. There will be additional charges for such a certification.
The cost of CEAC archiving and certification depends on the size of the document in terms of number of A4 sized print outs with a minimum. The current pricing is as follows.
a) i) E-mail to E-mail (Sent) : Rs 500 per page with a minimum of Rs 5000/-
ii) E-mail to Address: Rs 500 per page with a minimum of Rs 5000/-
b) E-Mail to E-Mail ( Received) : Rs 500 per page with a minimum of Rs 5000/-
c) Web Page: Rs 500 per page with a minimum of Rs 5000/-
d) Certified E-Mail Forwarding Service is offered in the following three phases.
i) Certified Sent
ii) Certified Delivered
iii) Certified Read
The cost of this service is negotiable based on the volumes.
Cost of service does not include out of pocket expenses and remote certification costs. In the event an official of the center is required to give personal evidence the cost of travel and stay will be required to be paid.
In the event electronic content is accessible through a remote Computer, CEAC may use remote desktop sharing tools for the document observation session prior to recording. In such cases an additional charge of RS 2000/- would be payable for the remote session.
Users should recognize that Section 65B certified services are not to be compared with other known physical society services such as sending of lawyer notices and understand that the time, effort and skill involved is on a different scale. Services of CEAC therefore may appear priced higher than other physical society services that people may compare for understanding the nature of the service and users are requested to appreciate the true nature of the service and therefore the pricing.
Users also should note that in exceptional circumstances there could be additional costs if physical appearance of the CEAC official is required in a Court. Normally, CEAC certification is a “Matter of Fact” certification and does not require physical appearance in the Court. However exceptional requests cannot be ruled out.
The payment of the minimum amount of Rs 5000/- should be first paid online through Naavi’s Payment Center, using Naavi’s Payment Receipts at the time of placing the request.
In case the actual charges are higher, an invoice for the additional amount would be sent by e-mail along with the instructions for payment and it can be paid online as a secondary payment.
Payment for Certified E-mail Forwarding Services will be as per the negotiations.
All Payments are being received online through ccavenue.com’s Sub-merchant service.
Forward the Sent Mail, as an attachment, to email@example.com with the words “CEAC-Sent” in the subject line, indicating the registrant’s address
Forward the Received Mail, as an attachment, towith the words “CEAC-In” in the subject line, indicating the registrant’s address
Forward the Mail to be sent by E-Mail, as an attachment, to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “CEAC-address” in the subject line indicting the destination postal address and registrant’s address in the body of the mail.
Forward the web page as an attachment email@example.com with the worlds “CEAC-web” in the subject line indicating the registrant’s address.
For any other service and for clarification, kindly contact CEAC over e-mail.
CEAC may confirm the document by sending confirmatory messages to the counter party of an E-Mail or by visiting the web site, take print outs and then register the contents in a “Register”. Entries will be made in writing in the register containing appropriate references to the document with a copy of the document itself being pasted to the register. Each page of the register will correspond to one page of the certificate and every page of the register will be properly accounted so that no interlineations are possible. The CEAC will also create and keep ancillary documents in the register itself time stamping the transaction based on its own confirmatory process.
CEAC views ony such documents which are public or otherwise permitted to be viewed. The activities of CEAC are for assisting a judicial process and hence outside the purview of Privacy. CEAC does not on its own share the contents of any of its Certificate or information that comes into its possession during the course of certification to any person other than the Court.
CEAC retains the option of rejecting documents that are indicative of any un lawful activity and also the option to report to the law enforcement authorities in case any transaction is indicative of activities alien to the Country.
All archivals are confidential. In case of messages received by a party submitted for archival, the counter party may not be notified of the archival.
In the web page archiving, we do not propose to inform the web site owner specifically of the archival process since only publicly accessible Web pages alone are archived.
In the case of E-Mail archival it is entirely the discretion of CEAC to keep the addressee informed.
Any requests to the contrary can be addressed as a special request to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be dealt with appropriately.
The registrants are provided with their own copies at the time of registration and support if any may be required for issue of duplicate copies or for substantiating the evidence for a Court at the time of any arbitration or litigation. CEAC will preserve the register for a minimum of 5 years. It will also send electronic confirmation to a Court when required without further charge. In case duplicate copies of the certificates are required suitable charges will be indicated at the time of request.
If personal appearance is required in a court of law, an authorized representative would be deputed subject to the reimbursement of necessary expenses.
The price for providing support services would be reasonable and commensurate with the services required as relevant at the time of availment. No figures can be quoted at present.
5 years as per present plans.
CEAC is a division of Ujvala Consultants Private Ltd, a body corporate and presently run buy Na.Vijayashankar, also called Naavi, founder of Naavi.org and other related web sites. The registered office of the Company is located in Bangalore, India. The relevant website is http://www.ujvala.com
Not at present.
CEAC was the first such service globally. Currently there may be other similar services.
CEAC service is a hybrid service not easily classified into other known types of services. However, it falls into the category of “IT Enabled Service” which is likely to be classified as an “Intermediary” under section 2 (w) and Section 79 of Information technology Act-2000.
The CEAC service is a first of its kind service not only in India as well as world over. The legal status of the CEAC certificates has to therefore emerge out of the way the society and its various constituents including the Netizens, the Law Enforcement Machinery, The Judiciary and the Government perceive the service. At the least, it should have the status of a ” Witness of an independent third Party to the existence of document archived”.
No. It must be appreciated that a Court has its own discretion in any matter of accepting or rejecting any evidence. However the prospect of its acceptance is high in view of the witness being a third party and the procedure followed is as per the provisions of law.
The first time a CEAC report came for Judicial review was in the case of State of Tamil Nadu Vs Suhas Katti at AMM Court Egmore, Chennai. This was a case in which the entire case hinged on a web page at yahoo groups which had been certified by CEAC. Based on the evidence presented, the Court gave a conviction in the case which was also upheld in the appeal Court. This can therefore be considered as a precedent.
For the information of the public, a copy of the judgement in the Suhas Katti case is available here.
(Original copy is available at http://www.ceac.in/suhaskatti_1.pdf and http://www.ceac.in/suhaskatti_2.pdf here for information. These are PDF files of size 9.5 MB and 6.5 MB respectively. Please right click and download if your browser gives an error ) Page 16 of the judgment makes reference to the Cyber Evidence Archival Center.
It must be remembered that CEAC only confirms the existence of electronic document in a specified form. It does not certify that the contents of the electronic documents are true. From the contents available, the Police, Lawyers or the Judiciary can arrive at their own conclusion about the content. In certain reports, some visible indications in the content which needs highlighting may be highlighted with information such as the WhoIs record or IP Address resolution etc. In such cases there would be an element of expert investigation into the parts of the content. Normally this would be done since the relevant records may be removed or become in-accessible subsequently.
Till around March 2019, more than 137 CEAC certificates have been issued. Many of them have been produced in Courts and admitted. In a few cases CEAC has been asked to confirm whether the Certificates were issued by them. In a few cases Naavi as the issuer of the certificate has been cross examined by the counter party.
However, under Section 22A of the IEA, no oral evidence in respect of an electronic record is permitted and hence the scope of cross examination is limited.
CEAC certification is apparently a simple registry service. However, to make the service reliable, CEAC adopts procedures and technology processes in the back end. These have been built out of years of experience of Naavi as a Banking professional and Cyber Law specialist and backed up by the best available technology at this point of time. The technology inputs are however subject to change from time to time and are a matter of “Technical Know How”.
You can send an e-mail to email@example.com with subject line ceac-info for any further information.
Your comments if any can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ceac-comment
The Certificate provided by CEAC is meant to be presented by a litigant on his behalf under his affidavit to the relevant Court. The role of CEAC is only to make the electronic documents admissible in the Court and the signatory is not a party to the dispute and the Certificate is to assist the Court in taking up the evidence for further trial.
Under Section 22A of the IEA, no oral evidence in respect of an electronic record is permitted and hence the scope of cross examination is limited.
Further, on request additional digitally signed copy of the certificate is provided to the person under whose request the certificate is given. This also provides non repudiable identity of the signer. Hence the Court should normally not have any difficulty in accepting the Certificate as genuinely signed by the signatory.
Naavi also produces an identity document along with the Certificates on request which any Court can use to independently verify the physical signature appearing on the Certificate with reference to Government documents such as PAN card and verifiable Digital Signature Certificate. Hence personal presence of the Certifier in a Court is considered not necessary.
The Certificate should therefore be normally admissible without the need for personal presence of the signatory.
The Section 65B certificate is a “Matter of Fact” certification and the Signatory is a third party to the dispute. The Certificate should normally be admitted without further need for personal presentation by the signatory in the Court.
However, the party against whom the evidence is presented may have their objection as to both the integrity of the person submitting the Certificate and to the facts that the Certificate refers to.
If the party has an objection on the content of the certificate, they may request the Court for a re-examination of the contents certified under the report by another Expert acceptable to the Court.
The Court also may summon another expert witness under Section 45A of IEA to obtain whatever clarification it may require. In that case there is no need for summoning the signatory to the Court except at a later stage if there is any material discrepancy between the two reports.
If the party to the dispute has an objection on the integrity of the person providing the Certificate or dispute the procedure for viewing the electronic documents certified, they may request the Court and the Court, keeping in view the credibility of the signatory and the organization issuing the Certificate, may exercise its discretion in summoning the signatory as a witness.
Since the signatory is an Expert and a professional of repute, the party at whose request he is summoned may be required to bear the cost of travel outside Bangalore by Economy air fare as well as a professional fee to be ascertained from the signatory.
Issue of any Certificate from Cyber Evidence Archival Center is conditional to the above.