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Amid Rage Over Paper Leak, Centre Makes Key Move, Enforces Laws Under Public Examination Act 2024

For those involved in organised crimes of cheating, there's five to ten years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore.

Representative/Getty Images
Amid row over paper leaks, the Ministry of Personnel issued notification for the strict law. Photo: Representative/Getty Images
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Amid massive outrage over paper leaks, the Centre on Friday decided to enforce stringent law that aims to curb malpractices and irregularities in competitive exam, with a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 1 crore for those found guilty.

The move comes nearly four months after the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, was given assent by President Droupadi Murmu. In a gazette notification issued on Friday night, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions said that the provisions of the law will come into force from June 21.

This also becomes a significant move from the Centre's side, given the raging controversy over UGC-NET exam paper leak and the allegations into the discrepancies in NEET UG 2024.

Notably, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday registered a case to probe the UGC NET paper leak, an exam conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

A court-monitored federal probe agency's investigation, along with a retest, has also been demanded for the NEET UG exam, by students and politicians alike.

The notification issued by the Personnel Ministry read, "In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024 (1 of 2024), the Central Government hereby appoints the 21st day of June, 2024, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force."

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, just a day before had said that the law ministry was framing the rules for the legislation.

Rajya Sabha passed The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 on February 9 after it was given assent to by the Lok Sabha on February 6. The President's approval to the bill on February 12, finally turned it into a law.

THE PUBLIC EXAMINATIONS ACT 2024 | DETAILS

The act aims to prevent unjust means or practices in the public examinations which are conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), the railways, banking recruitment examinations and the National Testing Agency (NTA) among others.

In order to curb cheating, the law mentions provisions for a minimum of three to years in prison. While for those involved in organised crimes of cheating, there's five to ten years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore.

Notably, before this legislation, there was no specific law to deal with unfair practices adopted or offences committed by various entities involved in the conduct of public examinations by the Centre or its agencies.

Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh had said that the Act aims at preventing any organised gangs and institutions that are involved in unfair means for monetary gains and protects aspirants, students from its provisions.

(with agency inputs)

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