Criminals at Work?
Keeping safety of the workplaces in mind, the Government has set the ball trundling towards offering the public and private sector business establishments with access to the national database of crimes and criminals to perform contextual examinations. The government has taken this action in an attempt to guarantee securer offices or workrooms. Consequently, all business units such as private companies, public sector undertakings and government departments in India will now be capable to scrutinize the backgrounds of a prospective employee for any scandalous record through the Crime and Criminals Tracking Network Systems (CCTNS).By paying an emolument, these business establishments can access to the source of data on detentions, imprisonments, current investigations, court cases and lists of decreed criminals, which they would then be able to employ before hiring an individual.
As per the website of Home Ministry which lists the citizen amenities offered by CCTNS, citizens, institutions and companies can seek past history examination of prospective employees including domestic servants, drivers, teachers, security guards, tenants or for any other objective. Residents of the country can also search for documentation of their own antecedents. Government units can also scrutinize the character and pasts of employees at the time recruitment in CCTNS database.
CCTNS is an integrated storehouse of criminal proofs throughout the nation’s digitally-interwoven police stations. Gangapuram Kishan Reddy, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, had lately mentioned that out of the entire 16,098 police stations in India, CCTNS software is being utilized in above 95% of them. The CCTNS, which is linked with police stations and investigation organizations from all over the nation, gathers real-time information on cases, criminals, courts, fingerprint bureaus, forensic labs etc. It may also comprise vehicle registration details, photographs and even screenshots in some instances. The database has approximately 28 crore reports till December 2020 and is being updated every minute.
To make the project reality, the Union Ministry of Home flagged the way it by giving its permission for the monetization of the New Delhi based CCTNS national data centre and the task of developing a portal for the aim has been assigned to National Informatics Centre (NIC).Under it, companies can access to databanks of the National Data Centre (NDC), National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) and Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS). The system which is to be fabricated by National Informatics Centre will pair the given particulars of individuals such as name, age or age radius, places like state or district or police station of his or her current and permanent address, with prevailing felonious records under CCTNS. If an individual’s name is located in the data, the user will be able to verify the details, including down to the level of the First Information Reports (FIRs), in the case of police cases.
Conversely, many experts have conflicting opinions and voiced their worry over confidentiality after the home ministry had informed the Rajya Sabha of allowing the National Crime Records Bureau to use an automated facial recognition system (AFRS) for the recognition of criminals, unclaimed bodies and missing persons. The director of Asia policy at Access Now and board chairman of Internet Freedom Foundation, Raman Jit Singh Chima said that there is a design of government assembling data and making it obtainable for the industry and Aarogya Setu app is one such illustration. He also said that CCTNS has countless delicate data which is problematic and there is no supervision and permitting a third-party access to it not only invades the right to privacy but it can lead to misapplication of data, particularly when the data protection bill has not been approved by the Parliament. The research director at Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), Amber Sinha, told that such subtle data, which already suffers from social disparity and discernment, reaching into the hands of commercial syndicates can lead to further unfairness.
But the home ministry, placing doubts at rest, mentioned that privacy will not be affected because AFRS will be retrieved only by the law execution agencies. It has also articulated that permitting private companies, PSUs and government departments to access FIRs digitally would not give birth to any legal hitches and it will depend solely on the employer if he desires to hire a potential employee with a historical criminal record. The past Director of the National Crime Records Bureau, Ish Kumar, told that present manner of providing access to the wide-ranging data is "cumbersome" and the move will assist business firms to get information and that government can also earn "some money".
First lessons in background checks
Scandalous related trials are a crucial segment of the pre-employment assessment. Organizations should conduct criminal background verifications on their prospective candidates to provide a safer working atmosphere to their workforces. In India, many of the bigger establishments avail the services of a professional background screening partner to do examinations as per their necessity. Organizations which are conducting criminal background tests themselves must inspect the facts very prudent so that they do not naively appoint someone who is unfit for the entity.
In India, criminal background checks are being done through comprehensive lawsuit searches of court records connecting civil or criminal cases. The data is accumulated from the information dispersed by the Courts of Law. These comprise Criminal Suit Magistrate Court, Criminal Suit District Court, Criminal Suit State Court, District Civil Courts & Tribunals, District Court, High Courts, Magistrate Court, State Courts and the Supreme Court of India.
All-inclusive immoral record investigations are the best option to having a workplace that is harmless from any criminal bustle. It gives a guarantee to the entity that they are appointing candidates who have a spotless history. This includes searching related records like civil litigation database, regulatory compliance database and criminal database that consists of the candidate’s name and other details. Organizations should make sure that they are carrying out genuine database searches while running a wide-ranging criminal backdrop check on a would-be candidate. They should verify both Indian and overseas records to examine any link of the candidate with organized crime or any known mention in any court case.
In India, the database can be retrieved from different courts of law and for availing the information relating to litigation, the National Crime Research Bureau and Central Bureau of Investigation’s most wanted rolls can be accessed. So as to acquire the defaulters’ list the database of RBI, SEBI and Central Vigilance Committee’s list of corrupt officials can be explored. Employers should select a specialized background diagnosing vendor who has satisfactory acquaintance and mandatory skill sets along with access to indexed criminal and litigation databases. The written consent has to be obtained from the candidate before commencing the process of criminal background examination.
Sadly there is no precise statute allied to criminal background inspections in India. However, background testing can be executed by considering the provisions of the Indian Contract Act, Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code. Importantly, employers can be punished if they fail to maintain the personal data assembled from staff confidential as per the provisions of the Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005. The intensity of the checks varies and the nature of the job of the prospective candidates should be looked into before conducting the examination. For instance, the criminal background verification is completely different in hiring a Chief Executive Officer than a day worker.
In India, a government worker gets suspended if he or she has spent 48 hours or more in police custody. The reason for the police custody can be anything, including dowry death charges. Public entities have their own guidelines and punitive boards to handle this by studying the case on an individual basis and then taking a call on the action to be taken.
The final judgment on hiring can be taken after a broad appraisal of the criminal background check. The least employer can do is to give an opportunity for the person to justify their standpoint relating to the instance before taking the final call on hiring them. Criminal background checks are not limited to a specific city or region, but they work on a PAN India basis and occasionally have global implications as well. Even though in India criminal background check is not that customary, it is a significant check and should be part of the complete background check procedure.
As a final point, the government’s initiative of allowing the public and private sector business establishments to access the national database of crimes and criminals to conduct contextual scrutiny is a good move although many experts raised their concerns over privacy of the database. Yes, we know that the right to privacy is not absolute and it can be legitimately curtailed. However, any such restriction, as the Supreme Court of India held in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017), must be tested against the requirements of legality, necessity and the doctrine of proportionality. Immediately, the government should competently address the apprehensions raised by the experts over confidentiality of the database. Therefore, if this new plan is executed only through comprehensive data protection law, the unpredictable hazards and disproportionate limitations of fundamental rights can be avoided. This will also expedite constitutional scrutiny.
Questions to address before the process begins
- What is your objective of conducting criminal background checks?
- Who should you consider for conducting criminal background checks?
- What database can be used to conduct criminal background checks?
- What is the process of conducting criminal background checks?
- What are the different Indian laws that you need to be aware of before conducting criminal background checks?
- What is the nature of the job being applied for?
- Can we terminate an employee on the basis of the results obtained from their criminal background check?
- What should you do if you find out anything positive pertaining to the criminal records through the background check?