NEET-UG 2024: Centre Notifies Stringent Law That Was Passed In February To Prevent Paper Leaks & Cheating

NEET-UG 2024: Centre Notifies Stringent Law That Was Passed In February To Prevent Paper Leaks & Cheating

Known as the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, this ‘antipaper leak’ legislation covers examinations held by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Staff Selection Commission, the Railways, banking recruitment examinations, and all computer-based examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Saturday, June 22, 2024, 12:35 PM IST
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The new parliament building | X

New Delhi: In a belated attempt to uphold the integrity and sanctity of the examination system, the Centre, in view of the swirling controversies surrounding the NEET and UGC-NET examinations, has notified a stringent law that was passed in February to prevent paper leaks and cheating.

About The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024

The February law proposes that any person found guilty of leaking a paper or tampering with answer sheets will receive a minimum jail term of three years. This can be extended to five years with a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh. Service providers who have knowledge about a possible offence but do not report it can be fined up to Rs 1 crore.

Known as the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, this ‘antipaper leak’ legislation covers examinations held by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Staff Selection Commission, the Railways, banking recruitment examinations, and all computer-based examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

The late-night move came even as another exam the CSIR-UGC-NET examination, scheduled to take place from June 25, was also postponed due to "unavoidable circumstances." This exam too, was to be conducted by the National Testing Agency. The joint CSIR-NET exam is conducted for Junior Research Fellowship and Lectureship and Assistant Professor posts in Indian universities and colleges.

Minister of State (MoS) for Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions Dr Jitendra Singh said, “The Bill is aimed at curbing corrupt practices by few unscrupulous elements that play havoc with the future of our youth, destroying their careers and aspirations and occasionally resulting in fatal suicides.”

Cancellation Of UGC-NET Examination

On June 19, the Central government ordered the cancellation of the UGC-NET examination amid questions about the “integrity” of the exams. A day after the cancellation, the Union Education Ministry handed over the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation. According to Education Ministry Joint Secretary Govind Jaiswal, prima facie, the government felt the exam had been compromised.

Meanwhile, the entire matter has been politicised with charges flying thick and fast. A day after Bihar deputy chief minister Vijay Kumar Sinha alleged that the prime suspect in the NEET paper leak was linked to RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s private secretary, RJD shared a photo of another accused, Amit Anand, with deputy chief minister Samrat Choudhary.

In a post on X, RJD claimed that Choudhary was being felicitated by the accused but the deputy chief minister has since deleted all such photos. Tejashwi, in turn, has accused the state government of protecting the kingpins of the NEET case and contended that his aide was ready to face interrogation.

He told newspersons, “My PA or PS could be summoned, interrogated, and also arrested if found guilty, where is the problem?” “Wherever BJP is in power in any state or in the centre, it is certain that paper leaks will happen. We have reports of paper leaks in Bihar, Gujarat, and Haryana. They have played with the future of lakhs of children (in the NEET paper leak), we have been demanding immediate cancellation. The opposition INDIA bloc is united on the issue,” he added.

Referring to Sikander Kumar Yadavendu, an accused in the paper leak case, he said that the engineer (Yadavendu) could be a beneficiary but not the mastermind. He said that the government was diverting the issue to protect the main accused – Amit Anand and Nitish Kumar.

Nitish has confessed that he along with Amit had met his friend Yadavendu at Danapur Municipal Council office where the latter worked as a junior engineer, and told him that they could leak the question paper of any competitive exam. Nitish said Yadavendu agreed to pay Rs 30-Rs 32 lakh to them and also introduce candidates. Yadavendu allegedly charged Rs 40 lakh each from the candidates and paid Rs 32 lakh to Nitish-Amit, pocketing the remaining Rs 8 lakh. Amit said after Yadavendu’s arrest he had burnt the question papers.

The police had subsequently raided the spot where the students were given the leaked papers, where they found the remaining shreds of the burnt question papers.

Supreme Court Decline To Stay The Process Of Counselling

The Supreme Court on Friday again declined to stay the process of counselling in the National Eligibilitycum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate) 2024 and has issued a notice to the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the examination. A vacation bench of Justices Vikram Nath and SVN Bhatti of the apex court has tagged the fresh pleas along with pending petitions and posted them for hearing on July 8.

Leaders Of Uttar Pradesh Congress Hold A Statewide Demonstration

Responding to a call from the Party's high command, the leaders of the Uttar Pradesh Congress held a statewide demonstration on Friday, protesting against irregularities in the NEET-UG 2024 exam and demanding an investigation overseen by a sitting Supreme Court judge.

Protests were held in Lucknow, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Jhansi, Ayodhya, Moradabad, Meerut, and Bareilly. Notably, in Kanpur, even ABVP workers joined in, burning an effigy of Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan outside the District Magistrate's office.

In Rajasthan, former CM Ashok Gehlot, who had faced serious allegations of question paper leak during his regime, targeted the NDA government in the matter. Despite all the evidence why is the government not cancelling the NEET, he demanded.

Congress Leader Priyanka Gandhi On NEET-UG 2024 Controversy

Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi has said that under the BJP, paper leaks have turned into a “national problem” and ruined the future of millions of youth.

“In the last 5 years, papers for 43 recruitment exams have been leaked in the country,” Gandhi wrote in Hindi in a post on X.

“Under BJP rule, paper leaks have become a national problem that has ruined the future of millions of youths.” Her party held demonstrations in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Kohima, Nagaland, and Jharkhand.

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