Centre Enacts Stricter Rules to Curb Exam Malpractices

On Monday, the Centre notified the rules of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, aiming to eliminate malpractices in public examinations.
Centre Enacts Stricter Rules to Curb Exam Malpractices

On Monday, the Centre notified the rules of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, aiming to eliminate malpractices in public examinations. This legislation, enacted amid controversies over skewed results and paper leaks in premier entrance tests, was officially published by the Department of Personnel and Training. Parliament had passed the Act in February, and it comes as the Supreme Court prepares to hear petitions regarding issues with the NEET-UG exam on July 8. Recent irregularities led the government to cancel the UGC-NET exam on June 19 and the CSIR-UGC-NET on June 21.

The new law mandates that public examination authorities engage services from other government agencies to conduct exams. Institutions such as schools, government educational premises, public sector undertakings, and autonomous bodies are exempt from being categorized as service providers under this Act. Misconduct by their staff during examinations will be addressed according to relevant legal provisions.

The Act includes comprehensive provisions for computer-based tests, detailing processes for candidate registration, exam centre allocation, question paper distribution, evaluation, and result processing. Guidelines cover digital and physical infrastructure requirements, standard operating procedures for exam centers, seating arrangements, computer node specifications, server and network requirements, and measures to ensure exam integrity from pre-exam audits to post-exam activities.

In the event of an incident, the venue in-charge must prepare a detailed report for the regional officer via the centre coordinator. If initial evidence suggests a case for legal action, immediate steps must be taken by the regional officer. When individuals below the management level are implicated in malpractices or fail to report incidents, the centre coordinator must escalate the matter to the regional officer, who will then conduct an inquiry and decide whether to direct the centre coordinator to initiate legal proceedings. If higher management or board members are found involved, the regional officer will submit detailed findings to the public examination authority for further action.

This committee will include officials from the authority, an expert nominee, and a representative from the relevant ministry or department. The committee will review the regional officer’s report and present its findings to the public examination authority for appropriate action.

Additionally, the Act establishes procedures for handling allegations against public servants involved in examination administration. A committee may be formed for this purpose.

The Act also includes a monitoring mechanism to oversee implementation and adherence by public examination authorities nationwide. This involves forming review committees to evaluate the conduct of public servants involved in exam administration, ensuring accountability and transparency.

The draft legislation, passed by Lok Sabha on February 6 and by Rajya Sabha three days later, prescribes hefty fines and jail terms for offenders, while excluding students and candidates from its remit.

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