Pakyong, 7 February : On Tuesday, the Lok Sabha passed the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, with the intention of tackling malpractices and organized cheating in government recruitment exams.
The bill proposes stringent penalties, including a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 1 crore.
The Lok Sabha approved the Bill after rejecting certain proposed amendments from opposition members.
Presented by Union Minister Jitendra Singh, the Bill highlighted the absence of specific substantive laws to address unfair means or offenses related to the conduct of public examinations by various entities.
The Bill defines ‘Public Examinations’ to include exams conducted by entities such as the Union Public Service Commission, Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Boards, Institute of Banking Personnel Selection, Central Government Ministries or Departments, National Testing Agency, and other notified authorities.
According to the Bill, candidates falling under its defined scope will not be subject to its provisions but will remain under the existing administrative provisions of relevant public examination authorities.
The proposed punishments for exam malpractice include imprisonment for a term of not less than three years, extendable up to five years, along with a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh. In cases of organized crime involving examination authorities, service providers, or institutions, the penalty includes imprisonment ranging from five to ten years and a fine not less than Rs 1 crore. Institutions involved in such crimes may face property attachment, forfeiture, and recovery of examination costs.
The Bill mandates that only designated examination centers are permitted for public examinations, with all violations considered cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable. However, individuals can avoid liability if they demonstrate lack of knowledge about the offense and prove that they took necessary precautions to prevent it.