Criminal background checks are a critical part of the pre-employment screening. To provide a safe working environment to their employees, it is important for organizations to conduct criminal background checks on their potential candidates.
Most of the larger organizations in India avail of the services of a professional background screening partner to conduct the checks as per their requirement. For smaller organizations, if they are conducting the criminal background checks themselves, it is important for them to scrutinize the details very carefully so that they do not unknowingly recruit someone who is not right for the organization.
In India, criminal background checks are carried out through an all-inclusive litigation searches of court records involving civil or criminal cases. The data is collected from the information dispersed by the courts. These include:
- Criminal Suit – Magistrate Court
- Criminal Suit District Court
- Criminal Suit State Court
- District Civil Courts & Tribunals
- District Court
- High Courts
- Magistrate Court
- State Courts
- Supreme Court
Questions to Address before Conducting Criminal Background Checks
# 1 What is your objective of conducting criminal background checks?
Comprehensive criminal record checks are the best resort to having a workplace that is safe from any criminal activity. It gives an assurance to the organization that they are hiring individuals who have a clean past. This involves searching relevant databases like civil litigation database, regulatory compliance database and criminal database that consists of the candidate’s name.
Always ensure that you are carrying out legitimate database searches while conducting an extensive criminal background check on a potential candidate. Check both Indian and global databases to verify any association of the candidate with organized crime or any known mention in any litigation.
# 2 Who should you consider for conducting criminal background checks?
Every new employee or potential candidate should be scrutinized by conducting criminal background checks before they enter your workplace. Even a single discrepancy can have a drastic effect on the overall workplace safety, brand reputation and motivation of the current employees to continue working in your organization.
# 3 What database can be used to conduct criminal background checks?
In India, the database can be availed from State and Supreme Court’s public records and district magistrate. For availing the information pertaining to litigation, visit the National Crime Research Bureau and CBI’s most wanted lists. In order to get the defaulters’ list, search the databases of RBI, Central Vigilance Committee’s list of corrupt officials and SEBI database.
# 4 What is the process of conducting criminal background checks?
Select a professional background screening vendor, that has adequate knowledge and requisite skill sets along with access to indexed criminal records and litigation databases. Before starting the process, inform the candidate that you will be conducting the criminal background check by taking their written consent.
# 5 What are the different Indian laws that you need to be aware before conducting criminal background checks?
In India, there is no specific law related to criminal background checks. But, background screening vendors need to take the Indian Contract Act, Information Technology Acts of 2000 and 2005 along with the Indian Penal Code as benchmarks while carrying out criminal background checks. Organizations can get penalized if they fail to keep the personal data collected from employees confidential according to Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005.
# 6 What is the nature of the job being applied for?
If you are thinking about the gravity and nature of someone’s offence, it is also important to look at their nature of job before conducting the criminal background check. For example; if you are hiring a CEO, he/she will have an altogether different criminal background check than a day laborer. For the CEO job, you will have to check for crimes related to corporate finance while for a day laborer the check will be done more on a primary level.
# 7 Can we terminate an employee on the basis of the results obtained from their criminal background check?
In India, a government employee gets suspended if he/she has spent 48 hours or more in police custody. The reason for the police custody can be anything, including dowry death charges. Public organizations have their own policies and disciplinary committees to deal with this by reviewing the case on an individual basis and then taking a call on the action to be taken.
# 8 What should you do if you find out anything positive pertaining to the criminal records through the background check?
The end decision on hiring can be taken after a comprehensive review of the criminal background check. The least you can do is to give a chance for the person to justify their stance pertaining to the incident before taking the final call on hiring them.
Criminal background checks are not restricted to a particular city or region, but they work on a PAN India basis and sometimes have international ramifications as well. Although in India criminal background check is not that prevalent, it is an important check and should be part of the overall background check process. If you are not sure yourself consult a professional background screening partner that can advice you in such matters and keep you safe from any possible legal troubles.
cFIRST Think Tank is the team that researches and produces content for cFirst. This team comprises of seasoned content and digital design professionals and background screening industry veterans. Together we produce insightful blogs, infographics and reports meant for HR and background screening professionals.