Council okays diluted Bill on curbing exam malpractice

Prison term for leaking question paper reduced from 5 to 3 years

Council okays diluted Bill on curbing exam malpractice

A watered-down version of a Bill that proposes to curb question paper leak and examination malpractices was passed in the Legislative Council on Friday.

The Legislative Assembly had passed the Karnataka Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017, in February this year which declared question paper leak a serious criminal offence attracting imprisonment for up to five years. The Bill proposed that those guilty of instigating teachers to boycott examination work or evaluation duty can be punished with a five-year jail term.

However, the Legislative Council members had stalled the passing of the Bill and referred it to a House committee. The amended Bill, as recommended by the House Committee, was taken up by the Council on Friday. The jail term for those indulging in question paper leak has been reduced from 5 years to 3 years (for first offence) and the penalty had been reduced from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. However, a repeat offence will attract five-year jail term/Rs 5 lakh fine.

Besides, the jail term for instigating teachers to boycott evaluation duty has been reduced to six months from five years. Despite the dilution of the penal clauses, Opposition BJP and JD(S) members raised a hue and cry in the House stating that the provisions could be used to harass teachers. A majority of the MLCs are elected from the teachers and graduates’ constituencies.

The members said previous instances have shown that question paper leaks occurred at the printing stage or from state treasuries and teachers were not involved in it. K T Srikantegowda (JD-S) said the provisions of the bill are totally “anti-teacher”. V S Ugrappa (Congress) said if salary hike is withheld twice for those who threaten to boycott the exam work, then no teacher would go on strike. The Bill should have made provision for such punishment, he added.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Tanveer Sait repeatedly tried to convince the members that the Bill has been introduced to curb question paper leaks and protect the sanctity of examinations. However, the Opposition staged a walkout. The Bill was passed by a voice vote.

The provisions of the Bill will be applicable to examinations conducted by Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board (KSEEB) and Department of Pre-University Education (DPUE). The government had promised to come out with such Bill after facing severe embarrassment following two consecutive leaks of the second-year PU chemistry paper last year.

The provision to empower KSEEB and DPUE to debar students, suspend or withdraw recognition of educational institutions indulging in malpractice has been retained in the amended Bill.  The Bill would have to be placed before the Assembly again.
DH News Service

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