Anti-paper leak law comes into force amid NEET, UGC-NET row

The central government has enacted the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, to combat cheating in various national exams, proposing severe punishments.
Anti-paper leak law comes into force amid NEET, UGC-NET row
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

The central government on Friday notified the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, which aims to prevent unfair means in public examinations and common entrance tests held across the country. The move comes amid the massive row over the alleged malpractices in conducting the NEET and UGC NET examinations.

The law, which was passed by the Parliament in February this year, proposes a punishment of a minimum of three to five years of imprisonment to curb cheating and for those involved in organised crimes of cheating will face five to 10 years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore.

If a person or a group of persons commits an organised crime, including the examination authority, service provider, or any other institution, they will be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than five years but which may extend to ten years, and a fine not less than Rs 1 crore, the law states.

The law also has provisions to attach and forfeit the property of an institution if they are found involved in an organised paper leak crime, and the proportionate cost of the examination shall also be recovered from it.

However, the act protects the candidates appearing in the examination from the punitive provisions, and they will be governed under the provisions of the existing unfair means policy of the examination conducting authority.

The law defines 'unfair means' as leaking question papers or answer keys, assisting candidates during exams through unauthorised communication or providing solutions, tampering with computer networks or resources, impersonating candidates, conducting fake examinations or issuing fake documents, and tampering with documents for merit lists or ranks.

The offences that come under the law are non-bailable. Any officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police or Assistant Commissioner of Police can investigate any offence under the Act. Additionally, the central government has the power to refer any investigation to a central agency.

The Act covers examinations held by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Staff Selection Commission, the Railways, banking recruitment examinations, and all computer-based examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

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Anti-paper leak law comes into force amid NEET, UGC-NET row

Informing about the implementation of the bill on X, Union Minister Giriraj Singh said, "The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024—the anti-paper leak law for examinations for central recruitment and entrance into central educational institutions—came into effect on Friday, June 21."

Source: India Today

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