The process for background checks in India is still a relatively new concept. In order to maintain the integrity of the organization as well as to protect the confidential information, it is imperative for an employer to verify the profile of the prospective employee. Usually background verification has always been a checklist for an HR department, but tends to be ticked off after glancing at the educational documents and prior experience letters. However, with a recent rise in incidents of falsified profiles, Indian companies have started to include background checks as an integral part of the recruitment and screening process.
The practice of background checks differs across various sectors as well as organizations in India in the absence of defined statutes. A comprehensive background check entails verifying a prospective employee's educational qualifications, previous employment records, contacting past employers, criminal records and conducting an identity check by validating documents such as his passport, driver's license or PAN card.
Leading IT companies in India have adopted a two-tier system where reference checks are handled by in-house departments as well as by third party agencies. Several organizations have adopted processes for an intense interview to spot discrepancies in educational and work experience. Multinational companies operating in India have exported their policies and standards for background checks. For a senior level executive, companies also check the candidate's reputation and for any involvement in unethical practices or securities law violations.
India has no legal requirement dealing with antecedent verification on prospective employees except in certain cases. For instance, the Reserve Bank of India has issued notices to banks making it a mandate to conduct background checks on all personnel recruited from other banks as dealers. The onus has been placed on the banks to ensure that no person with a criminal background is employed by a recovery agency.
Employers ought to be sensitive of the data used for background checks as well as the means used for obtaining such information as India protects the privacy of an individual from unlawful intrusion. Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees a person the right to live with liberty and dignity. The Supreme Court has implied the right of privacy from Article 21 by interpreting it in conformity with Article 12 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.
Several challenges are posed on the validation process such as the absence of updated information on criminal history, credit worthiness violations of law and the absence of certain information being made available in a centralized manner. While the task of conducting a background check continues to remain a challenge, initiatives by the government and sector associations will in due time make the entire process much simpler.
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