Curbing cheating: Centre, states must join forces - The Tribune India

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Curbing cheating

Centre, states must join forces

Curbing cheating

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo

FAIRNESS and credibility are meant to be non-negotiable aspects of any competitive examination. Media reports point to a troubling reality. At least 41 instances of paper leaks have disrupted the process of recruitment for government jobs in 15 states over the past five years. A staggering 1.4 crore applicants for about 1 lakh posts have been affected. The system is crumbling. Malpractices leading to delays and cancellation of examinations have become the norm. Passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill aims to fix the problem. The Centre is hopeful that the substantive legislation to curb cheating will serve as a model draft for states. Some have already enacted laws. A commonality of purpose warrants close coordination and cooperation among various stakeholders. The proposed national technical committee, tasked with enhancing the security of computerised testing processes, too, needs unqualified support.

The Bill mentions at least 15 actions that amount to using unfair means. The offender might face up to 10 years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 crore. Organised paper leaks would lead to harsher punishment. All offences will be cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable. The police can act without a warrant and offences cannot be settled through compromise. The cheating menace also turns the spotlight on widespread unemployment and the desperation to land a government job. Vulnerabilities are exploited to lure candidates into a trap. The significance of periodic hiring and timely results cannot be overstated.

The authorities have often gone to extreme lengths to curb cheating. That has not deterred organised gangs, in collusion with government officials, from indulging in malpractices. The draft legislation rightly puts the focus on them and seeks to protect candidates. Stringent laws may well be the answer. 


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