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Jairam Ramesh says anti-paper leak law is "damage control"

New Delhi: Lashing out at the Bharatiya Janata Party government over the anti-paper leak law for exams that came into effect on Friday, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the bill deals with leaks "after they have occurred" while it is important to prevent the leaks from happening at the first place.
Terming the bill as a "damage control" to deal with controversies that have cropped up in several recent exams, the Rajya Sabha MP said the bill was given an assent by President Murmu in February itself, while it came to force only on June 21.
The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, came into effect on Friday.
Taking to social media platform X, Jairam Ramesh said, "On Feb 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. Clearly, this is damage control to deal with the NEET, UGC-NET, CSIR-UGC-NET and other scams."
"This law was needed. But it deals with leaks after they have occurred. More important are laws, systems, processes, and procedures to ensure that leaks don't happen in the first place," he added.
The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, came into effect on Friday. It aims to prevent unfair means in public examinations and common entrance tests held across the country.
The bill comes amid the massive row over the alleged malpractices in conducting the NEET and UGC NET examinations.
The Bill was passed by the two Houses of Parliament in the Budget session which concluded on February 10. It seeks to prevent the use of "unfair means" in public examinations and bring "greater transparency, fairness and credibility".
The public examinations in the Act refer to examinations conducted by authorities notified by the central government. These include the Union Public Service Commission, Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Board, National Testing Agency, Institute of Banking Personnel Selection, and Departments of the central government and their attached offices for recruitment.
The Act also prohibits disclosing exam-related confidential information before time, and unauthorised people from entering exam centres to create disruptions. The offences will be punishable with imprisonment between three and five years, and a fine up to Rs 10 lakh.
The NEET-UG 2024 exam was conducted on May 5 and its results were declared on June 4, ahead of its scheduled announcement date of June 14.
A row erupted after allegations of irregularities and paper leaks surfaced. The results showed that as many as 67 students had topped the exam with a perfect score of 720.
The petitions have been filed in courts by students seeking a re-test. The Supreme Court has allowed a re-test of over 1,500 students who were awarded "grace marks."
Earlier, the Ministry of Education canceled the UGC-NET exam held on June 18 "to ensure the highest level of transparency and sanctity" of the examination process.
The NTA on Friday also postponed the Joint CSIR-UGC-NET Examination June 2024 which was scheduled to be held between June 25 to June 27 due to "unavoidable circumstances as well as logistic issues."

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