President Approves New Anti-Cheating Law for Public Exams

On February 15 2024, President Droupadi Murmu granted her assent to the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, clearing the legislation for implementation after passage by both houses of Parliament in the recently concluded Budget session.

Public examinations refer to examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Board, National Testing Agency, and Departments of the central government.

Unfair means include, unauthorised access or leakage of question paper or answer key, assisting a candidate during a public examination, tampering with computer networks, conducting fake examination, issuing fake admit cards and offer letters.

Key Provisions

Punishment for Cheating

The new law stipulates a jail sentence ranging from six months up to two years along with fines between Rs 10,000 to Rs 5 lakh for students caught attempting to cheat in public exams conducted by designated testing bodies.

Ban from Taking Any Tests

Those found guilty of using unfair practices during examinations face a ban from appearing for any national or state level examination for six months to lifetime depending on severity of ethical misconduct. This includes professional course entrance tests too.

Applicability to Exam Officials & Coaches

In addition to students, chief invigilators, independent representatives, paper setters and solution providers also face up to two years prison time and fines for abetting cheating through leaks of question papers, answer keys or via other illegal collusions.

Authorized Test Conducting Entities

All examinations held in physical mode by the National Testing Agency and various other testing bodies operating state and national level eligibility tests fall under purview of the stringent legislation.

Current Realities

Addressing Digital Age Grey Areas

The anti-cheating regulatory framework aims to address ethical misconduct grey areas which emerged from proliferation of technologies like spy cameras, ear pieces and online remote assistance which enable large scale leaks discrediting academic credibility.

Curbing Coaching Mafia Menace

It also aims to deter the parallel cottage industry of coaching mafias specializing in facilitating cheating either through imposters, solvers or by compromising processes in connivance with corrupt insiders.

Challenges in Implementation

Monitoring Infrastructure Overhaul Needed

While the legislation sets strong deterrence, experiencing agencies have flagged need to exponentially upgrade monitoring infrastructure and protocols through surveillance analytics, data mining, biometrics and forensics for robust nationwide implementation.

Concerns Over Ambiguous Provisions

Educational experts contend some provisions like imprisonment for minors, applicability on teachers are somewhat ambiguous requiring clarifications while expressing concerns over possibilities of over-policing impacting student welfare.


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