BENGALURU: Aarti Pai (name changed) is a media professional in the city. About a month back, she started receiving sexually suggestive messages on her phone from an unknown number. Worried, she put up a post on Facebook tagging the Bengaluru Police and then went to meet an official
"Some of these messages were extremely lewd and solicited sex from me. This person said he knew where I stayed and would come home. I remember being extremely scared for a few days and shuddered whenever the doorbell rang at night or when I was all alone at home," she says. The police traced the number to a delivery boy of a cake shop who had been to Aarti's place on duty.
Hundreds of delivery boys are used by app-based food delivery services, e-commerce firms, restaurants, but are such companies conducting background checks?
Seemanth Kumar Singh, Additional Commissioner of Police, East, told City Express, "If and when these companies come to us with such requests, we will definitely carry out the verification. However, they are the ones who have to take the initiative."
Police sources told CE that so far they have not received any requests by any company, big or small, on background verification particularly for delivery boys. A source told CE that by government orders, it is mandatory for all staff of schools to get police verification certificates. "This order was mainly passed due to the many cases of sexual harassment in schools," the source adds.
Drivers of cab services and aggregators also compulsorily need such verification. People employed with security firms need to get police verification under rules of the Private Security Agency (Regulation) Act, 2005 and Karnataka Private Security Agency Rules, 2008. "With regards to verification of delivery boys however, there are no such rules and hence, not mandatory," said the source.
The source further says it might be possible that firms employ third parties who specialise in background verification. "However, there are delivery boys who can be first-time offenders. There is no way of checking this in such cases."
Trouble At Doorstep
In 2017, there was a case of a fashion design student registering a police complaint about a courier boy flashing at her and stalking her. The delivery boy in question had landed at her doorstep twice.
In 2016, there was a case of a delivery boy putting a customer's number on social media platforms as an escort. There was a dispute between the two following cancellation of a food order which had angered the delivery boy.
In 2015, a woman chose to move out of the city due to constant harassment by a delivery boy which started when she ordered food.
The delivery boy in question tried to befriend the woman and she spurned his advances.
A spokesperson from an e-commerce company said that they usually hire third party logistic companies to take care of the delivery. "When we tie up with a particular company that does our deliveries, we ensure that there are certain standard protocols and checks and balances they fulfil while hiring delivery boys. Only then do we enter into an agreement with them."
Support For Strict Checks
In 2015, following an incident of harassment by a delivery boy of a food company, the victim started a petition on making safety measures necessary. It also elicited a response from the company in question who promised asking its delivery partners for background verification. The National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) also issued a circular asking all its members to conduct background checks for their own delivery staff.