Government Action Against Paper Leak Issues

By Sagar Mazumdar, a student of Rabindra Shiksha Sammillani Law College, University of Calcutta

To The Point

Paper leaks have always been a hot topic for debate especially in the political sphere. Whenever any incident of paper leak has been found, there has been a strong protest against the authority conducting those examinations and the Government. The opposition always treat this issue as an opportunity to label allegations against the ruling party. Even the recent controversy of misconduct during the public examinations, the opposition as well as many others have started protesting against the Government, alleging the Government to having work for the elites, of being corrupt and so on. Some demonstrations in the protest even went to the extent of demanding resignation of the officials entrusted with the job. There have also been incidents of cancellation of public examinations in a very short span of time which in turn aggravated the already frustrated stakeholders of such examinations. From social media to the streets, the Government has been facing protests in various form by the public itself. Amidst the protest, the Government brought into force the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024.

Legal Jargon

On 6th February, 2024, the Parliament of India enacted the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill which received the assent from the President of India on 12th February, 2024. On 21st June, 2024, the Act came into force in the country. The purpose of this act has been to prevent the use of unfair means during any public examination. It also has provisions to punish those involved in the using of unfair means in the public examinations. In other words, it has the provisions to tackle with the ongoing crisis in the field of public examination.


Some of the important provisions of the Act are:

Public Examination

The act has provided for a definition of what does public examination means. It has stated that any examination conducted by a public examination authority is a public examination. The public examination authority is such authority which has been notified by the Central Government as public examination authority.


As per Section 2(1)(a), a candidate is a person who has been given permission by the public examination authority to appear in any public examination. It even includes a scribe. 

Organized Crime 

Section 2(1)(h) defines organized crime in relation to public examination as the commission of any unlawful activity committed by any person or group of persons through unfair means by conspiring or colluding towards a common goal and sharing the wrongful gains, everything of which is committed in relation to any public examination.

Service Providers

The term service provider has been defined under Section 2(1)(n) of this Act. It refers any organization, agency, body, association of persons, company, business entity, partnership or proprietorship firm, and it also includes its contractors, subcontractors, supporters through computer resources or any other materials.

Unfair Means

The expression unfair means in relation to public examination has been explained under Section 3 which includes:

  • leakage or participation in the leakage of question paper or answer sheet or any part of it; 
  • unauthorized access or taking possession of any question paper or Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) response sheet;
  • providing solution to any question by any unauthorized person;
  • assisting any candidate in any manner unauthorized;
  • tampering with any answer sheet including OMR response sheet, or any document necessary for shortlisting or finalizing, or any computer network, system or resource related to the public examination;
  • altering the assessments except to correct a genuine mistake;
  • willful violation of rules prescribed by the Central Government for the conduct of the public examinations;
  • deliberate violation of security measures to facilitate unfair means;
  • manipulation in seating arrangements, dates or shifts of examinations to facilitate unfair means; 
  • threatening or obstructing any person lawfully authorized for the conduct of public examination;
  • creating fake websites or conducting fake exams, issuance of fake admit-cards, offering fake offer letters to cheat or earn money

The definition of unfair means is not limited to these circumstances but may enlarge itself.


  • All offences under the Act shall be cognizable, non bailable and non-compoundable.
  • Any person found guilty under Chapter II of the Act (unfair means and offences) may face a term of imprisonment from three to five years and a fine up to Rupees Ten Lakhs. 
  • The service provider shall be liable to pay a fine up to Rupees One Crore and bear the proportionate cost of examination and shall also be barred from conducting any public examination for a period of four years.
  • If during the investigation it is found that the Director, Senior Management or any other person in-charge has been involved in the commission of an offence under this Act shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of three year which may extend up to ten years and with a fine of Rupees One Crore. 
  • No one shall be liable to punishment if innocence is proved. 
  • In case any organized crime is committed by any examining authority, institutions, or any service provider then such persons shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than five years and not more than ten years and a fine not less than Rupees One Crore.
  • If any institution has been found guilty of organized crime, then the property of such institution shall be attached and forfeited and it shall pay the proportionate cost of examination.
  • In case of default in payment of fine, the person may be dealt with under the provisions of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita or the Indian Penal Code, whichever is in force.


It has been enacted that this Act shall as of now be effective to any examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission; Staff Selection Board; Railway Recruitment Boards; Institute of Banking Personnel Selection; Ministries and Departments of Central Government and their attached and subordinate offices for recruitment of staff; and such other agencies as may be notified by the Central Government.

Case Laws

In Central Board of Secondary Education v. Vineeta Mahajan (Ms) and Anr., the Supreme Court held that the charge of proving of using unfair means is the possession of materials relevant to the examination. It is immaterial whether the candidate has used it or not. 

In Vice-Chancellor, Utkal University and others v. S. K. Ghosh and others, a case related to leakage of paper in one subject, the University after scrutiny was satisfied that there has been a leakage of paper. It cancelled the examination of such paper and called for fresh examination. But it could not happen. The Supreme Court decided that since there has been a gap of two and a half years, therefore it would not be good to cancel the papers and call for fresh test for such paper. Thus, no need for the already passed candidates to reappear for the test.


Whenever any incident of leakage of question paper before the examination is known to the public, it not only affects the individuals appearing for those examinations but also the society in large. Examinations acts as a filter. If any candidate gets into a field by use of unfair means, it has a detrimental effect on the society. It brings down the public morale and to a great extent it can affect the belief of public on the Government. All these if uncontrolled may lead to the situation of anarchy. These examinations being for the public has to be immune from any unfair means. The Act brought in force by the Government must be properly executed in order to achieve the objectives of the Act. Only through the strict compliance of the law, may the authorities be able to deliver peaceful and honest public examinations.


  1. Is there any law to tackle cheating in examinations?

Ans. Yes, the Government has recently brought in force the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024.

  1. What is the punishment for Organized Crimes under the Act?

Ans. Imprisonment for a term of five to ten years, and fine of amount of at least Rupees One Crore. Attachment and forfeiture of property and recovery of proportionate cost of examination if any institute is found to be involved in committing organized crime.


  1. Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024
  2. Central Board of Secondary Education v. Vineeta Mahajan (Ms) and Anr., AIR 1994 SC 733
  3. Vice-Chancellor, Utkal University and others v. S. K. Ghosh and others, 1954 AIR 217
  4. Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023
  5. Indian Penal Code, 1860

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