Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Tackling Unfair Means in Public Examinations: The 2024 Bill


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Unfair Means in Public Exams



  • The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, introduced in Lok Sabha, seeks to combat “unfair means” in public examinations and enhance transparency and credibility in the examination system.
  • This comprehensive legislation addresses various aspects of unfair practices in public exams and outlines stringent penalties for violations.

“Unfair Means” in Examinations

  • Enumerating Offenses: Section 3 of the Bill outlines at least 15 actions that constitute “unfair means” in public examinations, primarily for monetary or wrongful gain.
  • Examples: These actions include question paper leaks, unauthorized access to question papers or answer sheets, tampering with answer sheets, providing unauthorized solutions to questions, and conducting fake examinations.

Scope of “Public Examinations”

  • Defining Public Examinations: Under Section 2(k), a “public examination” encompasses any examination conducted by designated “public examination authorities” listed in the Bill’s Schedule or notified by the Central Government.
  • Designated Authorities: The Schedule includes entities like UPSC, SSC, RRBs, IBPS, and NTA, responsible for various national-level examinations.
  • Central Government’s Authority: Ministries and Departments of the Central Government, along with their attached and subordinate offices for staff recruitment, fall under the Bill’s purview.

Penalties for Violations

  • Stringent Measures: Section 9 stipulates that offenses are cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable.
  • Cognizable Offenses: Authorities can arrest individuals without a warrant.
  • Non-Bailable: Bail is not a matter of right and is subject to a magistrate’s discretion.
  • Non-Compoundable: Complainants cannot withdraw the case, necessitating a trial.


  • Individual Offenders: Violators may face imprisonment ranging from three to five years and fines of up to Rs 10 lakh.
  • Additional Penalty: Failure to pay the fine can result in additional imprisonment, as per the provisions of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023.
  • Service Providers: Those providing support for examination conduct can be fined up to Rs 1 crore, along with other penalties.
  • Organized Paper Leaks: In cases of organized paper leaks constituting “organized crime,” offenders may face imprisonment for a minimum of five years, extendable up to ten years, and a fine not less than one crore rupees.

Rationale Behind the Bill

  • Addressing Rampant Paper Leaks: Numerous cases of question paper leaks in recruitment exams nationwide have disrupted the hiring process and affected millions of applicants.
  • Need for Specific Legislation: The absence of a substantive law to address unfair practices in public examinations necessitated a comprehensive central legislation.
  • Objectives: The Bill aims to ensure transparency, fairness, and credibility in public examinations while deterring individuals and entities exploiting vulnerabilities in the system for wrongful gains.
  • Model Draft for States: The Bill is intended to serve as a model for states to adopt at their discretion, assisting them in preventing disruptions in their state-level public examinations.


  • This legislation represents a significant step toward safeguarding the integrity of public examinations in India.
  • By establishing stringent penalties for unfair practices and addressing the issue of paper leaks, the legislation seeks to reassure candidates that their sincere efforts will be duly rewarded and their future secured.
  • Moreover, the Bill’s potential to serve as a model for state-level legislation enhances its impact in curbing exam-related malpractices.

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