GUWAHATI: In a bid to curb question paper leak incidents in various state-level examinations, the Assam government is going to introduce a new ordinance – Assam Public Examination (Measure for Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Ordinance, 2023 making the maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment and a fine from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 10 crore.
The offence has been made cognizable and non-bailable.
Assam is the second state of the country to introduce such a stricter law to control public exams. Earlier, Rajasthan Rajasthan Public Examination (Measures for Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Act, 2022 on July 22, 2023.
In its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at Gandhi Mandap on Monday, the state cabinet okayed the ordinance.
Under section 10(2) of the ordinance, imprisonment for 5 years and extending till 10 years and a fine of Rs 10 lakh extending up to Rs 10 crore and in case of default of fine further imprisonment of 2 years, will be awarded to guilty persons.
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The nature of offences will impersonate, leak, attempt to leak, attempt to sell/print, attempt to procure, attempt to solve question paper or directly or indirectly assist examinee in unauthorised manner, conducting exams in not designated centres/ printing of question papers/blank answer scripts in not designated printing press.
Under section 10(1) of the law, three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh will be awarded to the guilty person for unauthorized help, in exams, in the form of material written, recorded, copied or printed.
“The state government will bring out a notification soon to effect the ordinance. We will also table a bill in the next session of the Assam Assembly to enact the law in the state,” Education Minister Ranoj Pegu said addressing a press conference here on Tuesday.
“This law will provide effective measures to curb and prevent the offences of leakages of question papers and use of unfair means at public examinations for recruitment of any post under the state government, including autonomous bodies, authorities, board corporations, and to provide special court trials,” Pegu said.
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“This ordinance will ensure the prevention of the use of unfair means in the government recruitment process. All offences specified under the ordinance will be cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable,” Pegu also said.
“The offences will be properly investigated by appropriate authorities and courts. The state government will frame rules for carrying out the purposes of this ordinance,” he said.
All exams conducted by the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC), Gauhati High Court, State Level Recruitment Commission for Class III Posts, State Level Recruitment Commission for Class IV Posts, Board of Secondary Education Assam (SEBA), Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC), State Level Police Recruitment Board, Teachers Eligibility Test for LP and UP Schools, Teachers Eligibility Test for Secondary Schools, Medical and Health Recruitment Board, Assam Engineering Service Recruitment Board, Assam College Service Recruitment Board, state sector PSUs and all exams conducted by state-funded universities, societies, corporations, local bodies will be covered under the ordinance.
Assam has witnessed two incidents of question paper leaks within the past three years.
On March 11, 2023, the question paper of the General Science of the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) exam conducted by the Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA) was leaked prompting the SEBA to cancel the exam scheduled for March 13.
On September 20, 2020, the question paper for the written test for recruitment of 597 posts of sub-inspectors (SI) was leaked on social media prompting the State Level Police Recruitment Board (SLPRB) to cancel the written test a few minutes after it had started.
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