OPINION | The never-ending story of leaked exam papers

In last 7 years, more than 70 examination papers have been leaked in different states

neet 2024 sfi protest kerala ernakulam A student protest in Kerala over alleged irregularities in NEET-UG Entrance Exam 2024 results

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) in response to a petition that sought the cancellation of the NEET-UG 2024 exam due to an alleged paper leak. A vacation bench consisting of Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, upon hearing the petition, stated that the sanctity of the NEET National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET)-UG 2024 exam had been compromised and demanded answers from the NTA. "It is not that simple because what you have done (held the exam) is sacrosanct. Sanctity has been compromised, so we require answers," Justice Amanullah told the NTA's counsel.

National Testing Agency (NTA) had conducted the medical entrance exam NEET on May 5, Patna Police had claimed in the court that the question paper of NEET UG has been leaked. A record 23 lakh candidates had registered for NEET (UG) this year. Questions are being raised across the country about NTA since the results were declared on June 4th. The issue of paper leaks is being discussed throughout the nation, and we are apprised of it on a regular schedule.

Long history of paper leak

There are frequent reports of paper leaks in India. Due to this many examinations have to be cancelled. According to media reports, in the last 7 years, more than 70 examination papers have been leaked in different states of the country, due to which the careers of more than 1.5 crore youth have been affected. These youth belong to every religion, every caste and every income group. Can't there be a “guarantee” that the paper will not be leaked?  

If we talk about UP, the state government recently cancelled the UPPSC review officer/assistant review officer (RO/ARO) Exam 2024 and UP Police exam due to paper leaks. Before this Sub Inspector in 2017, UPPCL in 2018, Subordinate Services Selection Board in 2018, teacher recruitment in 2020, B.Ed entrance exam in 2021, UPTET in 2021 and aided school teacher/principal's paper leaked in 2021. 

Similarly, in Rajasthan, LDC in 2015, Constable Recruitment in 2018, Patwari Recruitment in 2019, Librarian Exam in 2019, Junior Engineer Recruitment in 2020, Sub Inspector and REET Recruitment in 2021, the paper has been leaked. Similarly, in Gujarat 2015 Talati Paper has been leaked. , 2018 Tet paper, 2018 Main Sevika paper, 2019 Non-Secretariat Clerk Recruitment, 2021 Head Clerk Recruitment, 2021 Sub Auditor paper, 2022 Forest Guard Recruitment and 2023 Gujarat Panchayat Service Selection Board Junior Clerk Recruitment paper have been leaked. 

Similarly, the annual examination of D.L.Ed course in West Bengal, BPSC examination conducted by the Bihar Public Service Commission, JOA IT recruitment examination of Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission, Madhya Pradesh Primary Teacher Eligibility Examination, 10th and 12th board examination in 2022 in Tamil Nadu etc. There have been cases of leakage of question papers of various competitive examinations like the Assistant Engineer examination conducted by the State Public Service Commission and the examination for graduate level posts of Uttarakhand Subordinate Selection Commission. Discussion about Punjab and Haryana in this matter is meaningless because it has become a custom here. 

Common problem across India

These are not just isolated cases of question paper leaks. Getting a government job is the dream of millions of youths, to fulfill which students are working hard day and night. But after working so hard, when the paper gets leaked, their years of hard work go waste along with the money spent by their parents. Governments have been serious about this, yet their efforts to stop paper leaks are proving inadequate. The matter here is about both intentions and policies and the answer to which these young candidates have been searching for many years. Every time an investigation is conducted, another paper gets leaked. The system of paper leaks is the same even though the states' governments are led by different political parties. 

Shatters the dreams of youths

Paper leak is not just a flaw in the examination system, but a big issue that shatters the dreams of millions of youths. India is a young country. About 65 percent of the population here is youth. His dreams are big. They are hard-working, hard-working and talented. They prepare hard for these competitive examinations for many years, fighting all the difficulties and hardships. First of all, examinations are not held at regular intervals. Posts remain vacant for years but recruitment is not done and even if there is recruitment, people are not able to get rid of dishonesty. When parties are strengthening their IT cells so much, then why are governments not strengthening their own IT cells? This is a complete failure of the government system.

Current laws pertaining to paper leaks

Several State governments have made strict laws against those found guilty of paper leak and cheating. But despite these laws, paper leaks continue unabated in the states. Recently, the Central Government passed 'The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024', according to which, there is a provision of punishment ranging from three to ten years in jail for those who help in cheating in the examination. This law will be applicable to most of the examinations conducted by the Central Government and its testing agencies. However, the mere provision of strict punishment will not provide any effective solution to this problem.

How to get rid of leak paper

Can't such an institution be formed that conducts examinations at fixed times like the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)? Also, appointments with political connections in commissions/board must be completely stopped and the examination commission should have its own printing press. Otherwise, an hour ahead of the start, the soft copy should be sent directly through code lock and should be printed and distributed at the examination centers.  With this method, question papers will certainly be a little more expensive than press printing, but will be safe and leakproof. 

Question papers must be prepared in multiple sets. The punishment for the paper mafia should be given within a stipulated time in the fast-track court. If any coaching institute is found involved, action should not just be taken against the accused, but the institute should be closed. Hundreds of people are involved from the preparation of paper sets to their distribution to the examination centers. In such a situation, even one weak link commits a crime like a paper leak due to pressure or greed for money.  Therefore, everyone's responsibility should be fixed from top to bottom.

Dr.Brajesh Kumar Tiwari is Associate Professor at Atal Bihari Vajpayee School of Management and Entrepreneurship (ABVSME), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. 


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.


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