Anti-Paper Leak Law in Force Amid NEET Row: Maximum 10-Year Jail Term, Rs 1 Crore Fine for Offenders

Anti-Paper Leak Law in Force Amid NEET Row: Maximum 10-Year Jail Term, Rs 1 Crore Fine for Offenders

Anti-Paper Leak Law in Force Amid NEET Row: Maximum 10-Year Jail Term, Rs 1 Crore Fine for Offenders

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The move assumes significance amid a raging row over NEET UG, UGC-NET 2024 exam’s question paper leak

June 22, 2024

The Centre has operationalised a stringent law to curb malpractices in competitive examinations, entailing provisions for a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 1 crore for offenders. This development follows the controversy surrounding the NEET UG 2024 and UGC-NET exam question paper leaks.

Nearly four months after President Droupadi Murmu assented to The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, the Personnel Ministry issued a notification on Friday night, stating that the provisions of the law will be effective from June 21.

This action comes in the wake of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registering an FIR on Thursday against unidentified persons involved in the UGC-NET paper leak, based on a reference from the Union Education Ministry. Opposition parties have also raised allegations of irregularities in the NEET-UG exam, whose results were announced on June 4 by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024 (1 of 2024), the Central Government hereby appoints the 21st day of June 2024, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” reads the notification.

The law aims to prevent unfair practices in public examinations conducted by various bodies including the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC), railways, banking recruitment examinations, and the NTA. It mandates a minimum imprisonment of three to five years for cheating offences and five to ten years for organized cheating crimes, along with a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore.

Prior to this legislation, no specific substantive law addressed unfair means in public examinations conducted by the central government and its agencies. The Act is designed to target organized gangs and institutions involved in cheating for monetary gains while protecting legitimate candidates from its provisions, as explained by Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh.

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