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anti-cheating bill: President gives nod to anti-cheating bill: What is the punishment and which exams will it cover?

President Droupadi Murmu on Tuesday gave her assent to Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means), Bill, 2024, which aims to check cheating in government recruitment exams.

The Bill was passed by the two Houses of Parliament in the Budget session which concluded on February 10. It seeks to prevent the use of “unfair means” in public examinations and bring “greater transparency, fairness and credibility”.

It got the President’s approval on Monday and shall come into force on a date decided by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette.

The Bill, which has become an Act now with the President’s nod, defines several offences in relation to public examinations.

Exams covered under the bill:

The public examinations in the Act refer to examinations conducted by authorities notified by the central government which include Union Public Service Commission, Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Board, National Testing Agency, Institute of Banking Personnel Selection, and Departments of the central government and their attached offices for recruitment.What is the punishment?If it is established that offences involving service providers were committed with the consent or connivance of any director, senior management, or persons-in-charge of the service providers, such persons will be held personally liable. They will be punished with imprisonment between three years and 10 years, and a fine of Rs 1 crore.

The Act specifies a higher punishment for organised crimes. An organised crime is defined as an unlawful act committed by a person or a group of persons to further a shared interest for wrongful gain in relation to public examinations. Persons committing an organised crime will be punished with imprisonment between five years and 10 years, and a fine of at least Rs 1 crore.

If an institution is held guilty of committing an organised crime, its property will be attached and forfeited, and a proportionate cost of the examination will also be recovered from it.

All offences under the Bill will be cognisable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable. No action will count as an offence if it is proved that the accused had exercised due diligence. An officer not below the rank Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police will investigate the offences under the Act. The central government may transfer the investigation to any central investigating agency.

(With ANI inputs)

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