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As Centre brings in anti-paper leak measures, Congress carries out fact-check over minister's claims

Experts said that without the Rules being notified, the legislation does not come into force, implying that the law might not be applicable in the paper leak case in NEET and in the NET-UGC case where the question papers were found on the darknet.
Last Updated : 22 June 2024, 19:17 IST

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New Delhi: The Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, which was passed in Parliament on February 9 this year, was notified late Friday night. The Rules of the legislation, which received the President’s assent on February 12, is currently being drafted by the law ministry.

However, on June 20, education minister Dharmendra Pradhan, responding to question by DH in a press conference on the NEET and UGC-NET exams, said that the legislation has already been notified, prompting Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, to carry out a fact check on the claim in a post on X.

Experts said that without the Rules being notified, the legislation does not come into force, implying that the law might not be applicable in the paper leak case in NEET and in the NET-UGC case where the question papers were found on the darknet.

On Friday night, June 21, a day after Pradhan’s press conference, a gazette notification was published by the Department of Personnel and Training under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024 (1 of 2024), the Central Government hereby appoints the 21st day of June, 2024 as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” the notification read.

Pradhan had said on Thursday that the legislation, which stipulates 10 years in jail and fine up to Rs 1 crore for paper leaks, was already notified. “My information is that the gazette has been notified but the law ministry is on the job of framing the rules. It will very soon come out with stringent rules … and all these incidents will also give us a new dimension to think … with a new approach. And, this Bill will facilitate … a few months back we did not have a weapon to face these kinds of challenges,” Pradhan had said in response to a query from DH on whether the Bill was notified.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, in a post on X, said that the education minister was misleading. “The law against paper leak was not notified, when the Education Minister was asked about it in the press conference, he said that this law has been notified … but the law was notified only last night … Why did the Education Minister of the Modi Government lie that the law has been notified and the Ministry of Law and Justice is yet to frame its rules?,” Kharge’s post read.

Former Lok Sabha Secretary General PDT Achary said that the law is not enforceable unless the Rules are notified, which means that the Act might not be applicable in the NEET and UGC-NET leak cases.

“Without the notification of the Rules, an Act remains unenforceable. There are several phrases in any legislation which state, ‘as prescribed in the Rules’; without them how can the legislation come to place? A ministry should either know or the ministry officials should inform the minister. Either he did not know or it was deliberate,” Achary said.

He also gave the examples of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which was passed in 2019, but the legislation was implemented only when the Rules were notified in 2024.

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Published 22 June 2024, 19:17 IST

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