Scroll Top


India being the most populous country in the world, there exists a huge gap between the number of aspirants for a particular post and the number of posts available. It is only natural that there also exists a cut-throat competition among the people for getting a job.


India being the most populous country in the world, there exists a huge gap between the number of aspirants for a particular post and the number of posts available. It is only natural that there also exists a cut-throat competition among the people for getting a job. The primary method of recruitment/admission is the public examination system, in which many exams are held nationally and at a state level by different organizations on behalf of the respective governments for a variety of professions and college admissions. This system is considered to be one of the toughest, but a fair one. Some of the major public examinations (often referred to as ‘competitive exams’) include –

  • Civil Services Exam – conducted annually by the Union Public Services Commission to recruit officers for various central services such as Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, etc.
  • Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) – conducted annually by the National Testing Agency for admission into undergraduate engineering courses in various institutions across the country.
  • National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) – conducted annually by the National Testing Agency for admission into undergraduate medical and dental courses in various institutions across the country.

These exams are often considered prestigious and associated with one’s identity. However, in the past few years, there have been various instances of public examination papers leaking before the commencement of the exam. These paper leaks undermine the credibility of the examination system and lead to cancellations of the exams, causing distress to aspirants and waste of resources like time, money, and effort. In the past year alone, the country has witnessed major paper leak fiascoes where ultimately the candidates were left high and dry. In Telangana, the Hindi question paper for the Secondary School Certificate(SSC) exam was leaked and was disseminated across various WhatsApp groups prompting the authorities to act quickly to resolve the issue. Furthermore, in March 2023, the Assistant Engineer recruitment exam conducted by the Telangana State Public Services Commission(TSPSC) was cancelled after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) had discovered credible evidence of the paper leak. In the same month, Assam witnessed the cancellation of the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) exams for English and General Science after it was discovered that these subject papers were leaked. An investigation is underway. In Maharashtra, a private college in Mumbai had leaked the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) Mathematics paper. An investigation by the police later revealed that the institution had also leaked the chemistry and physics papers to its students on WhatsApp just an hour before the exams. In Rajasthan, the Rajasthan Eligibility Entrance Test (REET) was conducted on February 25, 2023, wherein the exam paper was leaked on the day of the exam leading to an investigation by the police[1].

Adding to the list, the Uttar Pradesh Constable and Promotion recruitment exam which was conducted on February 17 and 18,2024, was cancelled by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath following allegations of paper leak. The CM has called for a re-test within six months. Furthermore, the NEET-UG exam conducted on May 05, 2024, faced allegations of paper leak in the state of Bihar. The Bihar police have arrested 13 people (including 4 candidates and their family members) in relation to the case and the investigation is ongoing.[2]

A report and investigation by the Indian Express newspaper has revealed that the schedules of nearly 1.4 crore applicants who were eying for over 1.04 lakh posts have been disrupted due to the various paper leak scandals across different states. The report contains 41 documented instances of paper leaks across 15 states over the last five years.[3]


In states like Rajasthan and Telangana, there has been a clear politicisation of the issue of paper leaks by the dominant parties in the respective states. During the recent campaigning for the assembly elections in Rajasthan, the BJP accused the Congress party of their failure to probe paper leaks under their rule and promised to do the same if voted into power. The BJP government formed an SIT to look into allegations of malpractices and paper leaks shortly after winning the Rajasthan election. A similar set of events occurred in Telangana wherein the Congress party accused the ruling Bharat Rashtriya Samithi government’s failure to prevent paper leaks of the TSPSC exams. Both the states saw a change in power soon after and it can be said that the issue of paper leaks was one of the major factors for the change[4].


Over the years, to curb the increasing malpractices in the public examination system, some of the states have introduced various anti-cheating laws. These laws usually contain provisions that penalize any form of unfair methods used by the candidates and others in public exams. They also forbid those in charge of conducting the examinations from disclosing any information they obtain in this role. Uttarakhand [5]and Gujarat [6] enacted such laws last year, while Rajasthan [7]enacted the law in 2022. States like Uttar Pradesh [8] and Odisha[9] have had such laws from 1998 and 1988 respectively while Andhra Pradesh enacted a law in 1997. Chhattisgarh [10]and Jharkhand [11] also enacted anti-cheating laws in 2008 and 2001 respectively[12]. However, these laws promise more than they deliver. It is clearly visible that despite passing these legislations, there hasn’t been much of an improvement in curtailing the paper leaks.

The Parliament in February 2024 passed the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means), Bill, 2024 which has received the President’s assent [13] and will come into effect on a date which will be decided and notified by the Central Government in the official gazette. This piece of legislation comes at a time when the country is plagued with cases concerning the public examination system. The bill, which has now become an Act, aims to check the malpractices and organised crime committed during public exams. The Act contains strict provisions for punishment for various malpractices including imprisonment ranging between 3 years to 10 years and a fine of up to Rs. 1 crore. According to the statement of objects and reasons of the Act, its objective is to ensure that public examination systems are more transparent, equitable, and credible. It also aims to reassure the youth that their efforts will be duly recognized and that their future is secure. The Act applies to government recruitment exams as well as exams like JEE, NEET, etc. The Act is meant to serve as a “model draft” for various states to adopt at their discretion.


The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means), Act, 2024 is a step in the right direction. However, more needs to be done with regard to curbing paper leaks and other malpractices in public exams. The various anti-cheating laws passed by different states seemed to hardly be of any use. There needs to be strict application of these laws. The loopholes involved in conducting examinations need to be completely removed.

The stakes involved are sky-high. The candidates appearing for these examinations put in a great amount of effort and their fate is decided just by the result. Keeping them in mind, the governments need to adopt a fast-track approach to re-conduct cancelled exams. Paper leaks often pose an unfair advantage to those who get unauthorised access to the paper beforehand over the ones who attempt the paper honestly. This advantage needs to be curtailed and justice must be served. 

Author(s) Name: Gayathri Sai Pisupati (Osmania University , Hyderabad)


[1] Sanjay Sharma, ‘Exam Paper Leak Fiasco: Top 5 Incidents Which Rocked 2023, Prompting Investigations’ (TOI, 19 February 2024) <> accessed 18 May 2024

[2] ‘13 arrested so far in NEET UG question paper leak case in Bihar’ (India Today, 12 May 2024) < > accessed 18 May 2024

[3] Sukrita Baruah, et al., ‘The big all India exam leak: Over 5 years, 1.4 crore job seekers in 15 states bore the brunt’ (The Indian Express, 06 February 2024) <> accessed 18 May 2024

[4] ‘Exam paper leaks: Mounting cases, aspirants affected, parties have made it an election issue’ (The Indian Express, 06 February 2024) <> accessed 18 May 2024

[5] The Uttarakhand Competitive Examination (Measures for Prevention and Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Act, 2023

[6] The Gujarat Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Methods) Act, 2023

[7] The Rajasthan Public Examination (Measures for Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Act, 2022

[8] The Uttar Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 1998

[9] The Orissa Conduct of Examinations Act, 1988

[10] The Chhattisgarh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2008

[11] The Jharkhand Conduct of Examinations Act, 2001

[12] Pratinav Damani and Siddharth Rao, ‘Anti-cheating laws for competitive examinations’ (PRS Legislative Research, 26 April 2023) <>

accessed 18 May 2024

[13] ‘President gives nod to anti-cheating bill: What is the punishment and which exams will it cover?’ (The Economic Times’, 13 February 2024)

 <> accessed 19 May 2024