Govt trying to do ‘damage control’: Congress on implementation of law to curb exam irregularities


PTI, Jun 22, 2024, 12:34 PM IST

New Delhi: The Centre’s decision now to implement a law to prevent the use of unfair means in competitive examinations after several “scams” have taken place, including in the NEET-UG and the UGC-NET tests, is “damage control”, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed on Saturday.

This law was needed but it deals with question paper leaks and other irregularities after they have occurred, he claimed in a post on X.

On Feb 13 2024, the President of India gave her assent to the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means), Bill, 2024.

Several opposition political parties and student associations, including the Congress, have held protests across the country over alleged irregularities in medical entrance exam NEET-UG and the UGC-NET. Amid the raging row over the issue, the Centre on Friday operationalised the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, that aims to curb malpractices and irregularities in competitive examinations and entails provisions for a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 1 crore for offenders.

The Bill received the President’s assent on February 13, but was enforced only on Friday, Ramesh, the Congress’ general secretary communications, said.

“On February 13, 2024, the President of India gave her assent to the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means), Bill, 2024. Finally, just this morning the nation has been told that this Act has come into force from yesterday, that is June 21, 2024,” he said.

“Clearly this is damage control to deal with the NEET, UGC-NET, CSIR-UGC-NET and other scams,” the Congress leader said and added that “This law was needed. But it deals with leaks after they have occurre”More important are laws, systems, processes, and procedures to ensure that leaks don’t happen in the first place,” he said.

The National Testing Agency, which conducts the competitive exams, on Friday announced the postponement of the June edition of the Joint Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test, citing unavoidable circumstances and logistic issues.

It came two days after the agency cancelled the UGC-NET examination within 24 hours of its conduct saying the integrity of the exam had been compromised, and a massive row on NEET over alleged irregularities, with the issue now before the Supreme Court.

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