News Brief

Up To 10-Year Jail Term, Rs One Crore Fine: Modi Government Notifies Strict Law Against Exam Paper Leaks Amid NEET, UGC-NET Controversies

Kuldeep Negi

Jun 22, 2024, 09:34 AM | Updated 09:34 AM IST

Students check NEET medical entrance exam results. (Representative Image) Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via GettyImages)
Students check NEET medical entrance exam results. (Representative Image) Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via GettyImages)

In a significant move amid the controversies surrounding the NEET and UGC-NET exams, the Centre has notified the stringent Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024.

Passed in February, the law aims to prevent paper leaks and cheating in public examinations.

This notification comes just a day after Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was questioned about the law's implementation.

He had stated that the law ministry was in the process of framing the rules.

The Act, effective from Friday (21 June), imposes severe penalties on individuals found guilty of leaking examination papers or tampering with answer sheets.

Under the Act, the minimum jail term for such offences is three years, extendable to five years, along with a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.

All offences under this Act are classified as cognisable and non-bailable.

Examination service providers aware of potential offences but failing to report them can be fined up to Rs 1 crore.

During the investigation, if it is established that any senior official from the service provider had allowed or was involved in committing the offence, he will face imprisonment for a minimum of three years, which can go up to 10 years, and a fine of Rs 1 crore. 

For organised crimes committed by examination authorities or service providers, the Act prescribes a jail term of five to ten years and a fine of Rs 1 crore.

The notification references the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, indicating that provisions of the Indian Penal Code will remain effective until the Sanhita is implemented on 1 July.

This law's notification follows recent controversies affecting millions of students.

Nearly 24 lakh candidates appeared for the NEET-UG 2024 for undergraduate medical courses on 5 May, with results announced on 4 June.

However, allegations of a question paper leak and grace marks awarded to over 1,500 students led to protests and legal actions, including Supreme Court involvement, which reprimanded the National Testing Agency (NTA).

On Wednesday, the Education Ministry canceled the UGC-NET exam a day after it was held.

Over 9 lakh candidates participated in this exam, which determines eligibility for Assistant Professor posts and junior research fellowships.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Minister Pradhan revealed that the UGC chairman received information from the Home Ministry's cybercrime team about questions being available on the darknet.

Pradhan described the NEET-UG paper leak and similar incidents as isolated but accepted moral responsibility.

Also Read: Yogi Adityanath Set To Bring Law Against Paper Leaks In Uttar Pradesh, Here Are Key Provisions

Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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