New Law Against Exam Leak Amid NEET Mess: Jail Term, Fine Upto A Crore

The move comes amid the controversies surrounding the NEET and UGC-NET exams, both of which are conducted by the National Testing Agency

All offences under the Act will be cognisable and non-bailable.

Taking an important step amid the controversies surrounding the NEET and UGC-NET exams, the Centre has notified a stringent law, which was passed in February, to prevent paper leaks and cheating.

The notification of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, comes just a day after Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was asked about when it would be implemented. The minister had said the law ministry was framing the rules.

Under the Act, which came into effect on Friday, any person or persons found guilty of leaking a paper or tampering with answer sheets will receive a minimum jail term of three years. This can be extended to five years with a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh. All offences under the Act will be cognisable and non-bailable.

Examination service providers who have knowledge about a possible offence but do not report it can be fined up to Rs 1 crore.

During the investigation, if it is established that any senior official from the service provider had allowed or was involved in committing the offence, he will face imprisonment for a minimum of three years, which can go up to 10 years, and a fine of Rs 1 crore. 

If the examination authority or the service provider commits an organised crime, the jail term will be a minimum of five years and a maximum of 10, and the fine will remain Rs 1 crore.

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


Nearly 24 lakh students had appeared for the NEET-UG 2024 for undergraduate medical courses, which is also conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), on May 5. The results were announced on June 4, 10 days before schedule, but allegations of a question paper leak and grace marks to over 1,500 students triggered protests. Cases were also filed in courts, including the Supreme Court, which has rapped the NTA. 

On Wednesday, the Education Ministry had cancelled the UGC-NET exam just a day after it was held. Over 9 lakh candidates had appeared for the exam, which is held for Assistant Professor posts in universities and colleges and to determine eligibility for junior research fellowships. Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Education Minister Pradhan said the UGC chairman had received information from the cyber crime team in the home ministry about questions being on the darknet.

He described allegations of leaks of the NEET-UG medical paper and others as isolated incidents but said he takes moral responsibility.

The opposition, strengthened after its much-improved showing in the Lok Sabha polls, has attacked the government over the issue and it is also expected to be brought up in Parliament when the session begins on Monday.