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Updated February 5th, 2024 at 09:33 IST

Centre to Unveil Bill to Prevent Paper Leaks Today, Up to 10 Years in prison, 1 crore fine proposed

Centre is set to introduce the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 in the Parliament today, February 5. Check full details here.

Reported by: Nandini Verma
Up to 10 Years in Prison, Rs 1 Crore Fine: Centre To Unveil Bill Today to Combat Paper Leaks
Up to 10 Years in Prison, Rs 1 Crore Fine: Centre To Unveil Bill Today to Combat Paper Leaks | Image:PTI/File
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In a significant move to address the rampant issues of paper leaks and organized cheating in public examinations, the Centre is set to introduce the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 in the Parliament today, February 5. The Bill is expected to cover a wide spectrum of examinations, including those conducted by UPSC, SSC, Railways, and prominent entrance tests like NEET, JEE, and CUET.

Sources reveal that the draft of the Bill has received approval from the Union Cabinet and is poised to be tabled in Parliament today. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions will spearhead the implementation of the Bill.

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Key Provisions of the Bill:

The comprehensive legislation will encompass recruitment and entrance exams conducted by various bodies such as UPSC, SSC, Railways, banking recruitment exams, CUET, NEET, JEE, and computer-based examinations by the National Testing Agency (NTA). The Bill proposes a minimum of three to five years of imprisonment for offenders, while cases of organized crimes could result in imprisonment ranging from five to ten years and a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore.

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For service provider firms involved in examinations, a fine of up to Rs 1 crore, along with the recovery of the proportionate cost of examination, is proposed. Such firms would also face a four-year ban from conducting public examinations.

Protection for Candidates:

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Crucially, the Bill includes provisions to protect candidates. According to sources, candidates defined in the Bill will not be liable for actions within its purview and will continue to be covered under the existing administrative provisions of the relevant public examination authority.

President's Assurance:

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Addressing a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament, President Droupadi Murmu emphasized the government's commitment to tackling irregularities in examinations. "My government is aware of the concerns of youth regarding irregularities in examinations. Therefore, it has been decided to enact a new law to deal sternly with such malpractices," she stated.

National Technical Committee:

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The Bill also proposes the establishment of a high-level National Technical Committee on Public Examinations. This committee is envisioned to develop protocols for securing digital platforms, ensuring fool-proof IT security systems, conducting comprehensive electronic surveillance of examination centers, and formulating national standards and service levels for both IT and physical infrastructure used in such examinations.

Addressing Past Reforms:

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Sources mentioned the various reforms introduced by the government to enhance transparency in examinations, including the elimination of document attestation, shortening examination cycles, eliminating interviews for recruitment to Group 'C' and 'D,' introducing computer-based tests, and issuing appointment letters through digital means under "Rojgar Mela."

Rationale Behind the Bill:

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Highlighting the necessity of such legislation, sources pointed out that in recent times, many states had to cancel or were unable to declare results due to the adverse impact of unfair practices by anti-social and criminal elements. The Bill aims to prevent and deter these unfair practices, primarily orchestrated by organized groups and mafia elements, which deploy solver gangs, impersonation methods, and engage in paper leaks.

Presently, there is no specific substantive national law to address these issues, and the proposed Bill is a crucial step towards deterring individuals, organized groups, or institutions involved in unfair practices that adversely impact the public examination system.

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Published February 5th, 2024 at 09:33 IST

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