Anti-cheating bill good but implementation matters, say students

- February 19, 2024
| By : Muhammad Tahir |

Students at coaching institutes in Delhi praise the new bill to curb the menace of cheating but say it will be tough to implement

EXECUTION IS KEY: Many students feel that implementation of the anti-cheating bill will matter in the end. (Photo: Getty)

Despite the Indian Parliament passing the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, many students in the Capital preparing for competitive exams, are pessimistic about its successful implementation. 

The bill, commonly known as anti-cheating bill, was introduced to check fraudulent practices, malpractices and organised cheating in government recruitment exams. After being cleared by both the houses of the Parliament, it now awaits the assent of President Droupadi Murmu before becoming a law. 

If given the nod, it may result in culprits or those involved in malpractice, getting a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and Rs 1 crore in fine.  

The government has been worried over cases of exam paper leak. As per the data, there have been more than 70 cases of exam paper leak in the country in the last seven years, leaving many students affected.  

“Even though the government is introducing a bill to curb it, cheating is not possible at large scale (big paper leak) without the involvement of a government institution or authority, like a government agency which conducts exams. Like we saw in Rajasthan, Bihar and UP paper leak. So I think, though the government is looking to take action through this bill, there will be no effect on the ground,” said an aspiring student who is preparing for SSC-CGL (Staff Selection Commission-Combined Graduate Level) exam at an institute in Mukherjee Nagar, the hub of coaching for competitive exams in Delhi. 

“Yes, it can have an impact on a small level. But the government should focus more on the authority which conducts exams,” said the aspirant who belongs to Bihar and has been preparing for a year. 

He added that implementation will be the key and there remains a possibility of the big fish behind the leaks going scot-free. 

“How this bill works on the ground will matter. Because making a law and implementation of a law are two very different things. Someone who already runs a racket, will face no trouble due to a fine of Rs 1 crore. A lot of government resources might also be misused through this. They need to rework the entire process,” he said.

“Ultimately, it is the students that suffer. I also appeared for the Bihar SSC exam which was leaked three times. When a paper is leaked, students’ time and money go waste. That exam also becomes the last attempt of many students.”

There is already a dearth of jobs, he said further. 

“The record of this government on providing jobs is also not good. It is not even filling the seats that are lying vacant in many departments.”

The offences as per the anti-cheating bill include leakage of answer key or question paper, creation of fake websites to cheat or for monetary gain, conducting fake examinations or issuing fake admit cards or offer letters among others.

Anuj Dixit, a 24-year-old graduate from Deshbandhu College in Delhi University, belongs to a middle-class family. 

He came to Mukherjee Nagar like thousands others with hopes of a good future. Although he commended the government on the move, he felt there were loopholes. 

“This is a good initiative by the government. They should have done it five years ago. However, loopholes are everywhere but if this is implemented 100% (fairly) it will be good,” Anuj, an aspirant of SSC-CGL told Patriot.

“We have high hopes from this bill. The 10 year prison sentence can create fear among people,” he said further.

Anuj, who hails from Orai in Uttar Pradesh, added that often the people within the system are involved. 

“Educated people are involved. They come into the system to clean it but end up dirtying it.” 

He wants the government to set up an independent body to regulate and conduct exams since one leak from the official side can affect many who give their all to prepare. 

“As aspirants, we survive in inhuman conditions. I manage somehow even though I live in Wazirabad, which is a bit far from here. The tempo fare is 10 rupees for one way. So to save money, I come by tempo but return on foot. And after that, if the paper leaks…” he stops before uttering, “I hope you understand the emotions.” 

His father, a farmer, sends Rs 8,000 for monthly expenses. 

Kajal Singh, who was checking some guides for a competitive exam, when Patriot approached her, blamed the authorities for instances of paper leak.  

“The authority is also involved in cheating incidents. There is a policy that exists but its implementation is not fair. Similar thing will happen this time. Only if this law is implemented properly, can cheating be prevented. Otherwise it will never stop.”

She blamed cheating as one of the reasons behind unemployment especially in Uttar Pradesh, from where she hails.

“See, in Uttar Pradesh, many students manage to pass class 11 and 12 exams through cheating. So they carry the bad habit here, but when faced with tough competition, they fail. Some of them get disappointed and commit suicide. Some others try to offer money to get the paper.”

She blamed the growing instances of suicide on the lack of job opportunities. 

“In Uttar Pradesh, the government gives less than 50% of the promised jobs in the police department. Unemployment should be a primary issue in the upcoming general elections, because youth is jobless. It has a harmful effect on society. Without jobs, youth will go the wrong way, and crime will increase.” 

Another SSC aspirant, Shubham Singh 25, said, “We students suffer the most in case of exam paper leak. The whole system is responsible for this. This bill will be implemented at all India level after becoming an act. So it is important that an independent central agency is set up for implementing it.”

He gave an instance from his home state of Bihar where a big bureaucrat was allegedly involved in an exam paper leak but was protected. 

Shubham added, “Cases like these break students’ resolve and patience. Many face difficulties in travelling for exams. This is also not good for the country, because the youth who want to serve the country are unable to enter the system due to this.”

According to this bill, however, all offences shall be cognisable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable and cannot be settled through compromise. Police will be empowered to act on its own and arrest suspects without a warrant.

Supriya Pathak, manager of the DLS coaching institute where students go to learn English for competitive exams in Mukherkee Nagar, also said that only implementation will make it useful.  

“The intent is good but there is a huge difference between intent and execution. Every law is made for a good reason but implementation matters. This (recruitment of aspirants fairly) will be better for students and for the country.

“On the other hand, when a law is made, there is also a chance of its misuse. But fine and jail can create fear to an extent. Overall, it’s looking good and was necessary but again it will depend on the execution,” added Supriya.