In a decisive move to fortify the integrity of public examinations, the Rajya Sabha approved the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, aiming to curb malpractices and ensure the credibility of the examination systems.
The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on February 5 and swiftly passed the following day, stands as a testament to the government's commitment to fostering transparency and fairness in public exams, emphasizing the significance of rewarding the sincere efforts of the youth.
The legislation addresses a spectrum of unfair activities plaguing public examinations, including the leak of question papers, tampering with answer sheets, manipulation of seating arrangements, operation of fake websites for illicit gains, and the orchestration of sham exams.
Underlining the gravity of the offenses, the Bill classifies all malpractices as cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable. Individuals caught employing unfair means may face imprisonment ranging from 3 to 5 years, coupled with fines extending up to ₹10 lakh. Exam providers are liable for fines reaching ₹1 crore.
Crucially, the Bill introduces heightened penalties for specific transgressions, prescribing a maximum imprisonment of 10 years for individuals in authoritative positions found complicit in exam rigging. This includes those overseeing service provider firms, directors, senior management, or any entity associated with the examination process.
The legislation reserves severe consequences for cases involving organized crime, where individuals or groups, including examination authorities, service providers, or affiliated institutions, are implicated. Offenders in such scenarios could face a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison, extendable to 10 years, accompanied by fines not less than ₹1 crore.
Furthermore, the Bill outlines provisions for the imposition of additional imprisonment in cases of failure to pay prescribed fines. Until the enactment of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will govern the legal proceedings.
The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, emerges as a robust response to the challenges posed by malpractices, signaling the government's unwavering commitment to maintaining the sanctity and credibility of public examinations.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University