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THE NEW LAW: A SHIELD AGAINST UNFAIR MEANS                                

On Friday, the Centre officially enacted the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, aimed at preventing cheating during public exams. This law was passed by the Parliament in February during the second term of the Narendra Modi government in the 17th Lok Sabha.

It is interesting to note that the timing of the notification of this anti-cheating legislation coincides with ongoing scrutiny and criticism of the government due to alleged paper leaks and other irregularities in various exams such as NEET, UGC-NET, and CSIR-UGC-NET.

Let us examine this new law closely!

KEY PROVISIONS OF THE ACT 

1.    Maximum Jail Term and Fine:

  • The Act imposes a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 1 crore for offenders involved in paper leaks or other unfair means during exams.
  • This stringent penalty underscores the government’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of examinations.

2.    Minimum Imprisonment for Cheating:

  • The Act also addresses cheating during exams.
  • Individuals found guilty of cheating face a minimum imprisonment of three to five years.

3.    Organized Crimes of Cheating:

  • Those engaged in organized crimes related to cheating will be subject to five to 10 years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore.
  • This provision targets individuals or groups orchestrating large-scale cheating operations.

WHY WAS THIS ACT NEEDED? 

  • Before this legislation, there was no specific substantive law to deal with unfair means adopted during public examinations conducted by the central government and its agencies.
  • The Act fills this gap, providing a legal framework to combat paper leaks and other malpractices effectively.
  • The Act now covers various entities, including: Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railways, Banking Recruitment Examinations and the controversy embroiled National Testing Agency (NTA).

REACTION AND IMPLEMENTATION                                                        

  • The Opposition Congress party has termed the Centre’s decision to implement this law as “damage control.”
  • The law came into force on June 21, 2024, following approval by President Droupadi Murmu.
  • The Centre’s proactive approach aims to restore public trust in the examination system.

CONCLUSION

The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024 is a crucial step toward ensuring transparency, fairness, and accountability in India’s examination processes. By imposing severe penalties, the government seeks to deter paper leaks and uphold the sanctity of competitive exams. This year’s NEET as well as UGC-NET conundrum emphasized the severe necessity of such provisions.


 

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