President Approves New Anti-Cheating Law for Public Exams

President Droupadi Murmu approved the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 on Tuesday, signaling a commitment to combat cheating in government recruitment exams.

The Bill successfully passed both Houses of Parliament during the Budget session that concluded on February 10. It aims to curb the use of “unfair means” in public examinations, fostering greater transparency, fairness, and credibility. President Droupadi Murmu granted approval on Monday, and its implementation will be determined by the Central Government through notification in the Official Gazette.

Now an Act with the President’s approval, the legislation defines various offences related to public examinations.

Exams covered under the bill

The Act categorizes public examinations as those conducted by authorities designated by the central government, encompassing entities such as the Union Public Service Commission, Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Board, National Testing Agency, Institute of Banking Personnel Selection, and various central government departments along with their attached offices for recruitment.

Punishment

If it is determined that offences involving service providers occurred with the consent or connivance of any director, senior management, or individuals in charge of the service providers, such individuals will bear personal liability. They will face imprisonment ranging from three to ten years and a fine of Rs 1 crore.

The Act outlines steeper penalties for organized crimes, characterized as unlawful acts committed by individuals or groups to advance a common interest for wrongful gain in connection with public examinations. Those involved in organized crime will face imprisonment ranging from five to ten years, along with a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore.

In the event an institution is found guilty of committing an organized crime, its assets will be seized and forfeited, and a proportional examination cost will be recovered from it.

All offenses under the Act will be considered cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable. No action will be deemed an offense if it is demonstrated that the accused had exercised due diligence. The investigation of offenses under the Act will be conducted by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police. The central government reserves the right to transfer the investigation to any central investigating agency.

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