Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024

  • 06 Feb 2024

In a bid to curb widespread cheating in public examinations, government has tabled the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 on 5th February. 2024.

  • This legislation proposes stricter penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines, for individuals and organized groups involved in exam malpractices.

Key Points

  • Aim: The proposed legislation aims to curb unfair means in public examinations and common entrance tests nationwide.
  • Legal Consequences: The bill includes provisions for punishment, including imprisonment, for instances of malpractice in public examinations.
  • Model Draft for States: The legislation serves as a model for states to adopt, assisting in preventing disruptions in state-level public examinations.
  • Scope and Provisions: Let's delve into the key aspects of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill:
    • Ensuring Transparency: The bill addresses the impact of malpractices on millions of students, aiming to bring transparency, fairness, and credibility to public examination systems.
    • Deterrence Mechanism: It focuses on deterring individuals, groups, or institutions engaging in unfair means for wrongful gains, thus safeguarding the integrity of public examinations.
    • Candidate Protection: The bill clarifies that candidates, as defined, will not face action under the bill but will be subject to existing administrative provisions of the relevant examination authority.
    • Legal Gap: Highlighting the absence of specific laws, the bill emphasizes the need for comprehensive central legislation to deal with unfair means and offences in public examinations.
    • Inclusive Definition: 'Public Examinations' include exams by various authorities like UPSC, SSC, Railway Recruitment Boards, IBPS, Central Government Ministries, NTA, and others notified by the Centre.
  • Regarding Unfair Means
    • Exclusive Premises: Public examinations must only take place in designated examination centers.
    • Legal Implications: Offences under the act are cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable.
    • Liability Exemption: Individuals proving lack of knowledge and demonstrating due diligence to prevent offences are not liable under the act.
  • Punishments
    • Individual Offences: Imprisonment for a minimum of three years, extendable to five years, and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh for unfair means.
    • Organized Crime: For organized crimes, including by examination authorities or institutions, imprisonment for a minimum of five years, extendable to ten years, and a fine of not less than Rs 1 crore. Institution's property may be attached and forfeited, with recovery of the examination cost.