Parliament passes bill to curb exam malpractices, paper leaks
NEW DELHI — Parliament on Friday passed a landmark bill that aims to curb malpractices and irregularities in competitive examinations by including stringent punitive provisions, with Union Minister Jitendra Singh asserting that the bill is meant to deter those who play with the future of the youth.
The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, passed in Rajya Sabha, has provisions for a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine up to INR 1 crore.
The bill was passed through a voice vote in Rajya Sabha on Friday, after amendments proposed by some opposition members were rejected. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on February 6.
Replying to a discussion on the bill in Rajya Sabha, Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, said the youth power of the country is “vital” and made it clear that the bill is meant to deter those who are playing with their future.
“We can’t allow vital youth power of this country to be surrendered or sacrificed in the hands of a handful few,” he said.
The minister said students, examinees and candidates will not be under the purview of the legislation.
“Very cautiously, we have kept the bona fide candidates out of the purview of the law, be it a job aspirant or a student. So the message does not go that this new legislation is meant to harass the youth of this country. It is only meant to deter those who are playing with their future and thereby the future of the nation,” Singh said.
The minister went on to say that merit cannot allowed to be hijacked by non-merit and urged the upper House to support the bill in one voice.
Singh said the government under Prime Minister Modi has “walked the talk” in bringing youth-centric reforms over the last 10 years. The British era practice of attestation of documents by gazetted officers was abolished within months of Modi taking charge in 2014, he said, citing several progressive measures taken by the government.
“This is a bill which is possibly the first of its kind in the history of Indian parliament. And I don’t blame the predecessors, maybe the founding fathers of the Constitution…
“Did not visualise such a situation happening, where we would be confronted with an issue which is ruining the future of the children… which is sacrificing the youth energy and youth power at the altar of handful of selfish interest and at a time when we have such a huge stake in our youth, who we call the architects of new India and who will also be determining the face of India in 2047,” he said.
The bill proposes a high-level national technical committee on public examinations that will make recommendations to make the computerised examination process more secure.
The move comes against the backdrop of cancellation of a series of competitive tests such as the teacher recruitment exam in Rajasthan, Common Eligibility Test (CET) for Group-D posts in Haryana, recruitment exam for junior clerks in Gujarat and constable recruitment examination in Bihar following question paper leaks.
The committee shall look into developing protocols for insulating digital platforms, devising ways and means for developing foolproof IT security systems, ensuring electronic surveillance of examination centres and formulating national standards and services for both IT and physical infrastructure to be deployed for conduct of such examinations.
In many instances, it has been observed that organised groups and mafia elements involved in malpractices deploy solver gangs, use impersonation methods and indulge in paper leaks. The bill primarily aims to deter such nefarious elements.
The objective of the bill is to bring in greater transparency, fairness and credibility to the public examination systems and to reassure the youth that their sincere and genuine efforts will be fairly rewarded and their future is safe.
Opposition parties Congress and Trinamool Congress supported the bill in the Upper House but called for more stringent norms and strict implementation of measures to prevent incidence of paper leaks, cheating and other malpractices.
Congress member Digvijaya Singh and Aam Aadmi Party member Sandeep Kumar Pathak also cited Vyapam case of Madhya Pradesh during discussion on the bill.