Lok Sabha passes bill to curb malpractices in public exams
07 Feb 2024
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed ‘The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024’ aimed at curbing leaks and malpractices – both individual as well as organised - in recruitment examinations conducted by the UPSC, SSC etc and entrance tests like the NEET, JEE, and CUET.
The Bill prescribes a minimum of three to five years of imprisonment to those involved in cheating and 5 to 10 years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs1 crore to those involved in organised crimes of cheating.
“Prevention of Unfair Means Bill, 2024” will cover entrance examinations held by the Union Public Service Commission, the Staff Selection Commission, the Railways, banking recruitment examinations and all computer-based examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency,” . minister of state for science and technology; PMO, personnel, public grievances, pensions, atomic energy and space, Dr Jitendra Singh said while replying to a debate on the Bill.
Earlier, initiating the discussion in the house, Jitendra Singh said there have been a slew of incidents of malpractices, paper leak, impersonation etc across the country. In Rajasthan, there have been 12 incidents of malpractices since 2018 while the Sub-Inspector Recruitment scam surfaced in Jammu & Kashmir in March 2022 and SSC Combined Graduate Exam in 2017, he said.
He said while there were several such incidents, more prominent was the leak of the Diploma in Elementary Education paper in West Bengal, in November 2022 and the leak of English paper in the School Service Commission examination in February 2023.
And, in Rajasthan, the December 2022 Teacher Recruitment Scam, the February 2022 Eligibility Exam for Teachers and the May 2022 Police Constable Recruitment Exam were all plagued by malpractices, he pointed out.
The Bill, he said, is aimed at curbing corrupt practices by a few unscrupulous elements that play havoc with the future of our youth, destroying their careers and aspirations and occasionally resulting in fatal suicides. The matter is above politics and there cannot be any difference of opinion among members of the House, he added.
Singh also clarified that the students or the candidates appearing in these examinations have been kept out of the purview of Bill and assured that they will continue to be governed by the provisions of the agencies conducting the exams.
Singh also said that all exams held by the UPSC and SSC are now being conducted in 13 regional languages and efforts are on to conduct exams in all regional 22 Scheduled Languages.
The minister also said that since these unscrupulous elements are using technology for these malpractices, technological solutions will be used to tackle the menace and a surveillance committee will be constituted to address those concerns.
Jitendra Singh said that the Bill is specifically meant to addresses issues related to unfair means in the conduct of exams that are not covered under the purview of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Act.
The Modi government, he said, has also initiated several youth-centric provisions and schemes in the last ten years, in order to ensure transparency and provide equal opportunity and level-playing field in recruitments and higher studies.
He cited the government’s decision to scrap the rule of attestation of documents by a gazetted officer, a dubious legacy of the British Raj. He also said the government’s decision to do away with interviews in government recruitment and higher education was meant to curb favouritism and corruption.
Singh said, examinations were made computer-based and online to ensure transparency and exams are now being conducted in a time-bound manner to provide the youth equal opportunity. The government has also initiated Rozgar Melas to mass disburse appointment letters.