The Gujarat Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a bill that calls for up to 10 years in prison for violations pertaining to paper leaks in government recruitment examinations. The accused will also be subject to a fine under the bill’s terms, which must not be less than 10 lakh and might reach 1 crore.
The Gujarat Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2023, introduced by Minister of State for the Home Harsh Sanghavi, was approved on Thursday with the support from members of the opposition parties, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Adding that 11 papers were leaked in the state in the past 11 years, Sanghavi said, “In those instances, 11 offences were registered against 201 accused. In 10 cases, chargesheet was filed. In one case, chargesheet was not filed as it was reported recently and the work is on to file chargesheet in that as well by the ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad).”
The main Opposition party Congress supported the Bill, but its members suggested a number of changes to it. One of the major changes was suggested by Modhwadia who demanded that the students appearing in school or college examinations must be excluded from the purview of this Act, else, it will ruin their career forever.
Following Modhwadia’s suggestion, the state government introduced a modification to the Bill and it was passed. As per a Schedule in the Bill, its provisions were applicable to the examinations conducted by various authorities in the state, including state-funded universities and GSHSEB.
Further, a number of MLAs of the Opposition demanded that the state government’s recruitment agencies should print the exam papers in government press instead of getting it done in other states. BJP MLA from Dhoraji, Mahendra Padaliya, said that the Bill was required so that hard working candidates do not take extreme step of committing suicide after getting disappointed by the paper leaks.
The bill aims to stop “unfair means,” which include leaking or attempting to leak a question paper, obtaining a question paper illegally, and solving a question paper illegally. Aiding an examinee during an examination in exchange for money is another kind of unfair means.
Any examinee (candidate taking an exam) who engages in unfair tactics will be penalised with up to three years in prison and a fine of at least one lakh rupees. Any person who hinders or threatens a member of the inspection team or a person the examination authority has chosen to perform their duties, may be penalised with up to three years in prison and a fine of at least one lakh rupees.
Any individual, including an examinee, who engages in unfair practices or violates any of the Act’s provisions faces a minimum sentence of five years in jail and a maximum of ten years in prison.
Moreover, the accused “shall also be liable for fine which shall not be less than ₹ 10 lakh, which may extend to ₹ 1 crore”.