New Law to Tackle Unfair Practices in Public Exams: Central Government

Mainstream
24-Jun-2024
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The Central government has notified the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, a new law aimed at preventing and punishing unfair practices in public examinations. The Act, which came into effect on June 21, addresses a range of unethical activities, including question paper leaks, answer sheet tampering, seating arrangement manipulation, and the creation of fake websites and exams for monetary gain.


The Act's introduction and swift passage through Parliament underline its importance. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on February 5, passed the next day, and subsequently approved by the Rajya Sabha on February 9. After receiving Presidential assent on February 12, it was officially notified on June 21 by the Central government in the Official Gazette.


This legislation arrives amid significant nationwide controversy surrounding alleged malpractices in major public exams, notably the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate medical admissions and the University Grants Commission–National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET). The UGC-NET exam was recently canceled due to similar concerns.


Key provisions of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, include making all offences under the Act cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable. Individuals found using unfair means in public exams could face imprisonment of 3 to 5 years and a fine of up to ₹10 lakh. 


Service providers engaged in conducting the exams are also held accountable under the new law. If found guilty of enabling unfair practices, these entities could be fined up to ₹1 crore, with the cost of the compromised exam recovered from them. Additionally, they would be barred from conducting any public exam for four years. Senior officials of these service providers could face prison terms of 3 to 10 years and fines up to ₹1 crore if they are complicit in any malpractice schemes.


Moreover, the Act imposes severe penalties for organized crimes related to exam conduct. Individuals or groups, including those within the exam authority or service providers, found guilty of such crimes could face 5 to 10 years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of ₹1 crore. Failure to pay fines will result in additional imprisonment as per the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023. Until the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita is enacted, the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will apply.


The notification of this law reflects the government’s commitment to maintaining the integrity and transparency of public examinations. By instituting stringent measures and severe penalties, the Act aims to safeguard the educational system from corruption and ensure fair opportunities for all candidates.


Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer