India Enacts Strict Anti-Cheating Law for Competitive Exams


In a decisive move to curb malpractices in competitive exams, the Indian government has enacted The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024. Effective from June 21, this law introduces stringent penalties, including imprisonment of up to 10 years and fines up to Rs 1 crore for those found guilty of cheating. This follows President Droupadi Murmu’s approval of the Act nearly four months ago.

Context and Need for the Law

The Act’s implementation comes in the wake of significant controversies, including the recent UGC-NET 2024 question paper leak. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has launched an investigation into this matter. Furthermore, irregularities in the NEET-UG medical entrance exams have raised concerns, with opposition parties highlighting these issues. The law aims to dismantle organized cheating operations and safeguard the integrity of public examinations.

Key Provisions of the Act

Scope of the Law

The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, targets cheating in public exams conducted by various bodies, including:

  • Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
  • Staff Selection Commission (SSC)
  • Railway recruitment exams
  • Banking recruitment exams
  • National Testing Agency (NTA)


The law distinguishes between general cheating and organized cheating, imposing severe punishments for each:

  • General Cheating: Offenders face three to five years of imprisonment.
  • Organized Cheating: Offenders face five to ten years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore.

Pros of the Act

Enhanced Integrity of Exams

The Act aims to preserve the integrity of public exams by imposing severe penalties on offenders, thus deterring cheating.

Protection for Honest Candidates

By targeting organized cheating operations, the Act seeks to protect honest candidates and ensure a level playing field.

Deterrent Effect

The stringent penalties serve as a strong deterrent against cheating, promoting a culture of fairness and honesty in examinations.

Cons of the Act

Implementation Challenges

The enforcement of such strict measures requires robust mechanisms and significant resources, which could pose logistical challenges.

Potential for Misuse

There is a risk of misuse of the law, where innocent individuals might be falsely accused or unfairly penalized.

Increased Stress for Candidates

The fear of severe penalties might increase stress and anxiety among candidates, potentially affecting their performance.

Implications for Students

Fair Competition

The Act ensures that students who work hard and prepare honestly for exams are not disadvantaged by those resorting to unfair means.

Increased Anxiety

The threat of severe penalties might add to the existing pressure on students, making the examination process more stressful.

Trust in Examination System

Over time, the successful implementation of the Act could restore and enhance students’ trust in the examination system.

Implications for Educational Institutions

Need for Vigilance

Educational institutions must enhance their vigilance and monitoring mechanisms to prevent cheating and comply with the new law.

Administrative Burden

The institutions may face an increased administrative burden in implementing the law and ensuring adherence to its provisions.

Training and Resources

Investments in training invigilators and deploying advanced surveillance technologies might be necessary to effectively enforce the Act.


The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, marks a significant step towards eradicating cheating in competitive exams in India. While it promises to uphold the integrity of public examinations and protect honest candidates, its successful implementation will require overcoming several logistical and administrative challenges. Balancing strict enforcement with fairness and support for students will be crucial for the law to achieve its intended objectives.

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