The Narendra Modi government on Monday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to curb malpractices in various government recruitment examinations like paper leaks and fake websites, with strict penalties including up to 10 years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of 1 crore for those involved in such organised crimes.

The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, introduced by Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, mentions “leakage of question paper or answer key”, “directly or indirectly assisting the candidate in any manner unauthorisedly in the public examination” and “tampering with the computer network or a computer resource or a computer system” as punishable offences done by a person, group of persons or institutions.

“The objective of the Bill is to bring 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,” the bill stated.

“The Bill is aimed at effectively and legally deterring persons, organised groups or institutions that indulge in various unfair means and adversely impact the public examination systems for monetary or wrongful gains,” the bill added.

The bill will cover entrance examinations held by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), the railways, banking recruitment examinations and all computer-based examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), Singh said.

The following are the unfair means/offences mentioned under the anti-cheating bill: 

1. Question paper or answer key leaks

2. Collusion with others to leak a question paper or answer key

3. Having possession of question paper or an Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheet without any authority

4. Helping any candidate in solving one or more questions during a public recruitment examination

5. Unauthorisedly assisting any candidate—directly or indirectly—in the public examination

6. Tampering with answer sheets including OMR response sheets;

7. Altering the assessment except to correct a bona fide error without any authority

8. Willful violation of norms or standards set up by the central government for the conduct of a public examination

9. Tampering with any document necessary for short-listing candidates or finalising the merit or rank of a candidate in a public examination

10. Deliberate violation of security measures to facilitate unfair means in the conduct of a public examination

11. Tampering with a computer network or a computer system for wrongful gains

12. Manipulation in seating arrangements, allocation of dates and shifts for the candidates to facilitate unfair means in examinations

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Published: 05 Feb 2024, 09:26 PM IST

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