IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


22nd June, 2024 Polity


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Picture Courtesy: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/net-paper-leaks-exam-cancelled-9404294/

Context: The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, is a significant step in India's efforts to prevent paper leaks and ensure the integrity of public examinations.


  • India’s Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, was enacted to address the frequent issue of paper leaks and other malpractices that have plagued public examinations across the country

Legislative Context and Need

●Background: The legislation was prompted by numerous instances of paper leaks across states, disrupting recruitment processes and affecting millions of candidates.

●Purpose: The Act fills a legislative gap by providing a comprehensive framework to deter and punish those exploiting vulnerabilities in the examination system for personal or monetary gain.

●Impact: It aims to reassure candidates that sincere efforts will be fairly rewarded and ensure the credibility of India’s public examination systems.

Key Highlights of the Law

  • Objective: The Act aims to enhance transparency, fairness, and credibility in the conduct of public examinations in India. It seeks to prevent the use of unfair means and malpractices that compromise the integrity of these examinations.
  • Definition of Unfair Means: Under Section 3 of the Act, "unfair means" include a range of actions aimed at gaining an unfair advantage in public examinations. This includes:
    • Leakage of question papers or answer keys.
    • Unauthorised access to examination materials.
    • Tampering with answer sheets or computer systems.
    • Providing solutions or assistance to candidates by unauthorised persons.
    • Creating fake websites or conducting fake examinations.
    • Any other act that undermines the fairness of the examination process.
  • Coverage of Public Examinations: The Act covers examinations conducted by designated public examination authorities such as the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Boards, Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), National Testing Agency (NTA), and other ministries or departments of the Central Government involved in recruitment or admissions.

The Act empowers law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute offenders. It provides for stringent measures to combat organised crime related to paper leaks and other malpractices in public examinations.

Specific Offences and Punishments

  • Criminal Offences: All offences under the Act are considered cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable:
    • Cognizable: Police can arrest without a warrant.
    • Non-bailable: Bail is not guaranteed; it is at the discretion of the magistrate.
    • Non-compoundable: The case cannot be withdrawn even if the parties settle.
  • Penalties:
    • Individuals: Offenders can face imprisonment ranging from three to five years and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.
    • Service Providers: Providers engaged in supporting examination conduct (e.g., computer resources) can be fined up to Rs 1 crore.
    • Organised Crime: In cases of organised paper leaks involving groups conspiring for wrongful gain, the punishment is imprisonment for a minimum of five years, extendable up to ten years, and a fine of at least Rs 1 crore.


  • The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, represents a comprehensive response to the problem of paper leaks and unfair practices in public examinations in India. By establishing stringent penalties and broadening the scope of punishable offences, the Act seeks to safeguard the integrity of examinations crucial for admissions and recruitments, thereby protecting the interests of millions of aspirants across the country. Its implementation will be crucial in restoring trust and fairness in the examination process.

Must Read Articles:

Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024


Indian Express


Q. Discuss the role of technology in transforming examination systems in India. Provide examples of successful technological interventions and critically evaluate their impact on exam integrity, accessibility, and transparency.