Jail term up to 10 years for question paper leak in exams conducted by UPSC, SSC, Railway, etc

Business Line, February 05, 2024
The Bill would aid States in preventing the criminal elements from disrupting conduct of their State level public examinations
Question paper leak of public examination conducted by UPSC, Railway, National Testing Agency, etc carries a jail term of up to 10 years and penalty up to ₹1 crore, a new Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday has prescribed.

The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill aims 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 will cover examination conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission), SSC (Staff Selection Commission), Railway Recruitment Boards, Institute of Banking Personnel Selection, Ministries or Departments of the Central Government and their attached and sub-ordinate offices for recruitment of staff, and National Testing Agency, besides any agency nominated by the Centre.

“The Bill shall serve as a model draft for States to adopt at their discretion. This would aid States in preventing the criminal elements from disrupting conduct of their State level public examinations,” statement of objects and reasons mentioned in the Bill said. The Bill was introduced by Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. The Ministry is headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Unfair means

The Bill outlines 15 unfair practices, such as leaking question papers, colluding to leak them, unauthorised possession of materials such as question paper or an Optical Mark Recognition response sheet, providing answers by unauthorised individuals, assisting candidates without authorisation, manipulating exam conditions, conducting fake exams, issuing fraudulent admit cards, and more.

“All offences under this Act, shall be cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable,” the Bill said. Any person or persons resorting to unfair means and offences under this Act, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than 3 years but which may extend to 5 years and with fine up to ₹10 lakh.

If the examination service provider is found guilty of unfair practices, they may face a fine of up to ₹1 crore. Additionally, the proportional examination costs will be recovered from them. Also, the agency will be prohibited from taking on any responsibilities for public examinations for four years.
In case, it is found that offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of any Director, Senior Management or the persons-in-charge of the service provider firm, he shall be liable for imprisonment for a term not less than three years but which may extend to 10 years and with fine of ₹1 crore. In case of organised crime, jail term could be 5-10 years and penalty not less than ₹1 crore.

“If an institution is involved in committing an organised crime, its property shall be subjected to attachment and forfeiture and proportionate cost of examination shall also be recovered from it,” the Bill said.