Students, candidates not be under purview of proposed law on cheating: Jitendra Singh in LS

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New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) Students and candidates will not be under the purview of the proposed law to check malpractices in examinations, Union minister Jitendra Singh told Lok Sabha on Tuesday as the house took up a discussion on the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024.

The bill which seeks to deal sternly with malpractices and irregularities in competitive examinations with provisions for a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine up to Rs 1 crore was introduced in the house on Monday.

"We have not kept student or candidate under the purview of this law," Singh, Union Minister of State for Personnel, said, intervening in the debate.

Satya Pal Singh, former Mumbai Police Commissioner and BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat, said when he was the HRD minister he got to closely see the malpractices in the PhDs which was a mandatory requirement for being recruited as assistant professors.

"People used to get their PhDs written from others, journals were not being written by candidates themselves... thousands of teacher training institutions used to be on paper and we worked on the closure of such institutions... these kind of institutions are ruining generations," he said.

"The punishments proposed in the bill and addition of sections of organised crime are a welcome step... I have seen that up to 50 students from one district are getting is this possible without cheating," he asked.

Kathir Anand, DMK MP from Vellore; Chinta Anuradha, YSR Congress MP from Amalapuram (Andhra Pradash); Rahul Ramesh Shewale, Shiv Sena MP and BJD MP Achyutananda Samanta, also spoke in support of the bill.

At present, there is no specific substantive law to deal with unfair means adopted or offences committed by various entities involved in the conduct of public examinations by the central government and its agencies.

The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, introduced by 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 offences done by a person, group of persons or institutions.

The bill proposes action against organised gangs, mafia elements and those indulging in malpractices and will not even spare government officials found in collusion with them.

The move comes against the backdrop of cancellation of a series of competitive tests such as the teacher recruitment exam in Rajasthan, Common Eligibility Test (CET) for Group-D posts in Haryana, recruitment exam for junior clerks in Gujarat and constable recruitment examination in Bihar following question paper leaks.

The objective of the bill is to bring in 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.

Addressing a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament at the beginning of the Budget session on January 31, President Droupadi Murmu had said the government is aware of the concerns of the youth regarding irregularities in examinations.

"Therefore, it has been decided to enact a new law to deal sternly with such malpractices," she had said. PTI GJS ZMN