In the wake of the controversies surrounding the NEET and UGC-NET exams, the central government took an important step and passed a stringent law in February to prevent document disclosure and cheating.

The announcement of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 came just a day after Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was asked when it would be implemented. The minister had said the Law Ministry was working on drafting the rules.

Under the law, which came into force on Friday, any person found guilty of leaking a document or tampering with answer sheets will be sentenced to a minimum of three years in prison, which can be extended to five years, with a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh. All violations of the law are punishable by law and are not eligible for bail.

Investigation service providers who have knowledge of a possible crime but fail to report it can be fined up to Rs 1 crore.

If, during the course of the investigation, it is found that any senior officer of the service provider permitted or was involved in the offence, he or she shall face a minimum term of imprisonment of three years which may extend to ten years and a fine of one crore rupees.

If the examining authority or the service provider commits an organised crime, the imprisonment shall be a minimum of five years and a maximum of ten years and the fine shall remain at Rs 1 crore.

The notification mentions the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita but adds that the provisions of the Indian Penal Code will remain in force until it is implemented. The Sanhita and the other penal laws are scheduled to come into force on July 1.


As of May 5, nearly 2.4 million students had registered for the NEET-UG 2024 for undergraduate medical courses, also conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). The results were announced on June 4, 10 days ahead of schedule, but allegations that over 1,500 students had exam questions leaked and marks cancelled sparked protests. Cases were also filed in courts, including the Supreme Court, which has been highly critical of the NTA.

On Wednesday, the education ministry had cancelled the UGC-NET exam, just a day after it was held. More than 900,000 candidates had registered for the exam, which is held for assistant professorships in universities and colleges and to determine eligibility for junior research fellowships. In a press conference on Thursday, education minister Pradhan said the UGC chairman had received information from the home ministry's cybercrime team about questions found on the dark web.

He termed the allegations of leakage of NEET-UG medical document and other documents as isolated incidents, but said he took moral responsibility for them.

The opposition, buoyed by its much better showing in the Lok Sabha elections, has attacked the government over the issue. The issue is also expected to come up in Parliament when the session begins on Monday.

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