Lok Sabha okays bill to check malpractices in public exams | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Lok Sabha okays bill to check malpractices in public exams

By, New Delhi
Feb 07, 2024 05:50 AM IST

The proposed law prescribes hefty fines and jail terms for culprits, even as it keeps students and candidates outside its remit

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday cleared the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, a proposed law that aims to curb malpractices in public examinations.

The move comes against the backdrop of cancellation of a raft of competitive tests. PREMIUM
The move comes against the backdrop of cancellation of a raft of competitive tests.

The proposed law prescribes hefty fines and jail terms for culprits, even as it keeps students and candidates outside its remit. “Eligible young people who come prepared for exams face injustice when such irregularities take place,” Union minister of state Jitendra Singh, who tabled the bill in the Lower House a day earlier, said as the legislation was taken up for a discussion on Tuesday.

“This is above politics and deals with the concerns of sons and daughters. The law is only for those who try to tamper with the system,” he said, citing a number of cases of paper leaks in West Bengal, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.

Also read: Number Theory: Can the BJP win 370 seats in Lok Sabha polls?

The move comes against the backdrop of cancellation of a raft of competitive tests such as the teacher recruitment exam in Rajasthan, Common Eligibility Test for Group-D posts in Haryana, recruitment exam for junior clerks in Gujarat and constable recruitment examination in Bihar following question paper leaks.

The draft legislation covers examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Board (RRB), National Testing Agency (NTA), Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), as well as central government departments and their attached recruitment offices.

It specifies a raft of activities as unfair means that would attract penal provisions, including unauthorised access of or leaking question papers or answers, assisting a candidate during an examination and tampering with computer network or documents for merit list.

Punishments under the proposed law range between fines of up to 1 crore, and prison time between three or 10 years, depending on the offence.

The bill is expected to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Singh also acknowledged suggestions, seeking quick re-examinations, but added that investigations into such irregularities precluded the Centre from putting a timeline on such efforts. “But we will always conduct the re-exam as soon as possible,” he added.

Singh also underlined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s efforts to speed up examinations.

Opposition leaders voiced their concerns over the proposed law.

“The danger of overarching powers of the central government is worrying as it encroaches the power of the state,” Congress leader K Suresh said. The process of rescheduling exams often takes years and candidates suffer as they don’t have age or situation by their side, he argued.

“You should make re-examination mandatory in three months. Coaching centre mafia is linked with political leadership and corrupt government officials. The bill must protect SC, ST students,” said Suresh.

The government should reduce a wider range of malpractices that have not been mentioned in the legislation, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kathir Anand said.

Supriya Sule of the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) wanted to know how this penalty system will work while suggesting the government come up with a foolproof process.

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