The past few years saw a steady increase in the crime rate in India. Be it corporate crimes, or physical robberies, the basic safety of the common man has been compromised. In these times, the need for a private investigator becomes very urgent. Whether it is an employee background check in your company or a pre-matrimonial check on your partner, private investigators have become intrinsic in keeping up the general safety of the public.
A question about the legality of the practice of a private investigator often comes up. Since the actions of a private investigation warrant an in-depth search into the subject’s life, to wonder whether it’s legal or not is perfectly natural.
Is Hiring Private Investigators Legal in India?
It is perfectly legal for you to hire a private investigator for any trouble that you might be facing in your private or professional life. No legislation or law prevents a private investigator from conducting investigations in the country. There have been many cases in India where before marriage, a family has resorted to private investigators to run a full pre-matrimonial investigation on the potential bride or groom. Private Investigators are quite helpful when physical robberies occur. Since the police usually take time in investigating the crime, private investigators usually do the same investigation in a substantially less amount of time.
As mentioned earlier, there are no legislations or laws that prevent the actions of private investigators in India. However, The Private Detective Agencies (Regulation) Bill, 2007 has been proposed to the parliament but yet hasn’t been passed. If this bill becomes a law, it will put regulations on licenses to work as a private detective and put heavy fines in the case of any offences committed by the private detectives in the course of the investigation. This bill however hasn’t been passed and private detectives can freely practice their profession without any regulations or constraints.
Despite this fact, there are few activities that private investigators are not allowed to conduct without a proper warrant or legal permission.
Let’s have a look at what these activities are!
Practices Which are Illegal for Private Investigator to Perform
While no legislation or law prevents private detectives from operating in the country, certain practices are outright illegal for a private detective to perform. If the private detective is Indulging in these practices they might end up with legal compliances.
- Impersonating a Police Officer
In the course of an investigation, a private detective can never impersonate a police officer or any officer of the law. This is strictly prohibited. This crime comes under the section. 170 of the Indian Penal Code. The punishment for the crime is 2 years in rigorous imprisonment.
- Phone tapping a person
As opposed to what is shown in crime dramas on TV, illegal phone tapping is a serious crime, and if a private investigator is indulging in it without a search warrant they can find themselves in legal problems and can even face imprisonment.
- Trespassing on Private Property
Trespassing on private property is another serious offence that no private investigator can commit. While investigating, a detective cannot enter someone’s home or any private property without the owner’s permission to gather evidence. It’s completely illegal in the eyes of law.
Things You Need to Keep in Mind Before Hiring a Private investigator.
It’s legal to hire a private detective to solve your problem but some Private detective agencies go to any extent to solve the case, which is not right. If a private investigator is doing anything illegal to solve your case, if caught, the investigator will get into legal complications and you will also be dragged along. No one would want that.
As no regulation restricts the setting up of a private detective practice in the country, a lot of fraudsters have started posing as private detectives. These fraudsters usually commit felonies to get an investigation done. Engaging with these pseudo-private detectives can land you in a law-suit that inadvertently becomes an expensive issue.
Apart from engaging in criminal activities for investigations, there have been cases of fraudsters posing as private detectives. These fraudsters are often scammers who demand a huge sum of money from the client for the investigation. As soon as they get their hands on the money, they run off with it leaving the client dumbfounded. To save yourselves from these fraudsters, there are some things that you should keep in mind before you hire a private detective:
- The Detective Should be Licenced
To ensure that you aren’t defrauded by a phoney private detective, one of the most important factors that you should check for is the license of the private detective. Every respectable private detective will always have a valid license. You shouldn’t ever choose a private detective who doesn’t have a license to avoid any legal problems in the future.
- Qualified and experienced Detective
You should always ensure that the private detective who is working on your case is qualified and has good experience in the field of investigation. A proper educational background is always a plus-point for any detective and should you choose a detective with low educational qualifications, it might hamper the quality of your investigation.
- Written Contract
Upon the agreement of starting an investigation, a properly drafted written contract that is legally binding should be a necessity. Many investigators often rescind the need for a written contract, so that they can avoid any legal complications that arise. You should always be wary of such investigators and always demand a legally binding written contract of any private investigation.
To sum up, It is not illegal to hire a private investigator in India. However, due to a lack of legal regulations for detective agencies, you are always susceptible to fraudulent detectives who are trying to extract your money and you should always be wary of such private detectives. You should always make sure that you are hiring a highly reputed, professional and experienced private detective agency. They will solve your case with the utmost professionalism. They will never do anything which will land you in any problem.