Bill on paper leaks referred to Council's select committee

A Bill, which provides for protecting the sanctity of examinations, has been referred to a select committee of the Legislative Council by the state government after the Opposition feared that some provisions may be used to harass teachers.

BJP and JD(S) members even staged a dharna in the well of the House on Tuesday demanding that the government withdraw the Karnataka Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017, as some of its provisions could be used to penalise innocent teachers.

Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Tanveer Sait repeatedly tried to convince the members that the Bill had been introduced to curb question paper leaks and protect the sanctity of examinations. When the Opposition members did not relent, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah agreed to refer the Bill to a select committee of the House.

“I agree to refer the Bill to the committee on the condition that the panel should submit its report within a month so that the Bill can be taken up in the budget session. The provisions have to be implemented when examinations for the current academic year are conducted,” he said. The Bill has been passed in the Legislative Assembly.

According to the provisions of the Bill, any person indulging in question paper leak will face up to five years’ imprisonment or fine of Rs 5 lakh or both. The Bill also proposes to crack down on people who instigate teachers to boycott evaluation of answer papers. Those guilty of instigating teachers to boycott examination or evaluation duty can be punished with up to five years’ imprisonment. The Bill proposes to enhance the fine which can be imposed on those who have been assigned examination work but fail to report for work from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 with one-year imprisonment.

Opposition members, including Puttanna, Basavaraj Horatti (both JD-S), Ganesh Karnik and Arun Shahapur (both BJP), said some provisions of the Bill had created panic among teachers as they could be hauled up in court even for staging a protest. They pointed out how previous instances had shown that question papers were leaked during printing or from government treasuries. “Question paper bundles reach the examination hall only 30 minutes before the start of exams. How can teachers, who are entrusted with invigilation, be blamed for question paper leaks?” Puttanna said.

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