NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a Bill which seeks to deal sternly with malpractices and irregularities in competitive examinations with provisions for a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine up to Rs 1 crore.
Piloting The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said its provisions are meant to safeguard the interest of meritorious students and candidates. The LS passed the Bill after rejecting some amendments proposed by opposition members.
Singh said that the government “will not allow meritorious (candidates) to be sacrificed at the alter of organised crimes,” adding that the students and candidates do not fall in the purview of this bill and there will be no harm to job aspirants.
He said that there is no specific substantive law to deal with unfair means adopted or offences committed by various entities involved in the conduct of public examinations. “This is above politics and concern which deals with the daughters and sons of this country, which we all of us should share.
There are few doubts as we have not read the bill thoroughly. Firstly, I want to clear that the students or the candidates do not fall in the purview or this legislation. This bill is for those who indulge in unfair means and adversely impact the public examination system for wrongful gains,” he added.
The move to bring a Bill comes against the backdrop of cancellation of a series of competitive exams like the teacher recruitment exam in Rajasthan, Common Eligibility Test (CET) for Group-D posts in Haryana, recruitment exam for junior clerks in Gujarat and constable recruitment examination in Bihar following question paper leaks.
The bill will cover entrance examinations held by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), the railways, banking recruitment examinations and all computer-based examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).
The bill also proposes a high-level national technical committee on public examinations that will make recommendations to make the computerised examination process more secure.
The bill proposes a minimum of three to five years of imprisonment to curb cheating and those involved in organised crimes of cheating will face five to 10 years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of `1 crore. The main aim of the bill is to prevent organised gangs and institutions that are involved in unfair means for monetary gains.