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The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Central government to address the rising concerns regarding leaks, malpractices, and organized cheating in various recruitment examinations.
  • The aim is to strengthen the legal framework to prevent unfair means in public examinations, ensuring the integrity and credibility of these exams.

About the Bill

  • The Bill outlines 15 specific unfair practices that are prohibited during public examinations.
  • These include leaking of question papers; colluding to leak question papers; unauthorized possession of materials such as question papers or answer sheets; providing answers by unauthorized individuals; assisting candidates without authorization; manipulating exam conditions; conducting fake exams; and issuing fraudulent admit cards among others.
  • The Bill extends its coverage to a wide range of entrance examinations conducted by various government bodies. These include examinations held by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC); Staff Selection Commission (SSC); Railway recruitment examinations; Banking recruitment examinations; Computer-based examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA); and entrance tests such as NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), JEE (Joint Entrance Examination), and CUET (Common University Entrance Test).
  • The Bill proposes stringent punishment for those found guilty of unfair means during public examinations.
  • All offenses under the Act are categorized as cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable.
  • Individuals involved in cheating face a minimum of three to five years of imprisonment.
  • Those engaged in organized crimes of cheating are subject to even harsher penalties, including five to ten years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore.
  • Additionally, in cases where institutions are found guilty, provisions include attachment and forfeiture of property, as well as the recovery of the proportionate cost of the examination from the institution.
  • The severity of the punishment is intended to serve as a deterrent against malpractices and to ensure the sanctity of the examination process.

Objectives of the Bill

  • The Bill addresses the pressing need to curb leaks and malpractices that have adversely affected the interests of lakhs of students in recent years, often leading to the cancellation of examinations.
  • It aims to target organized gangs and institutions that engage in unfair means for monetary gains while safeguarding the interests of genuine candidates.
  • By enhancing transparency, fairness, and credibility in public examination systems, the Bill seeks to reassure the youth that their sincere efforts will be fairly rewarded, thereby securing their future prospects.

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