Lok Sabha passes Bill to prevent use of unfair means in public examinations. Also clears J&K Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill to provide reservation to OBCs.

Updated, Feb. 06. 2024. 9.25 PM.

Lok Sabha has passed The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Caste Order (Amendment) Bill 2023 and The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Caste Order (Amendment) Bill adds Valmiki community as a synonym of Chura, Balmiki, Bhangi, and Mehtar communities.

The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill seeks to revise the list of Scheduled Tribes in J&K to include the Pahari community.

Replying to the debate in the House, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Dr Virendra Kumar elaborated on the various measures taken to uplift SC and ST communities by the government. He said these include Direct Benefit Transfers to students.

Replying to the discussion, Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the birthplace of Birsa Munda in Jharkhand but Congress leader Rahul Gandhi did not go there during his Bharat Jodo Yatra. He stated that all initiatives by Narendra Modi government are aimed at benefiting all the people, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

Participating in the discussion, Jugal Kishore Sharma of BJP said it is only Narendra Modi government which has thought about the welfare of Pahari community of Jammu and Kashmir. He said, it is a historic step to give reservation to the Pahari community. Supriya Sule of NCP supported the two Bills, and said that instead of bringing individual Bills for states, government should bring a nationwide Bill on reservation to give justice to backward communities.

Kodikunnil Suresh of Congress claimed that funds allocated for the welfare of SC and ST communities are not being adequately spent. Hasnain Masoodi of National Conference refuted claims that his party neglected the Pahari tribe’s concerns. After conducting today’s business, the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day. 

The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, which aims at preventing malpractices such as leaking of question papers, tampering of documents and tampering of computer networks in public examinations, was passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

While the Bill, which has provisions for jail term up to 10 years and a fine of over Rs 1 crore, seeks to punish officials or organisations that indulge in such malpractices, students or candidates will not come under its purview, clarified Union minister Jitendra Singh, who piloted the Bill.

In his response, minister Jitendra Singh said that such malpractices happen across states. “It has been reported from 15 states, everyone has read today. It happens everywhere. In fact, while introducing the Bill I deliberately named Jammu and Kashmir also,” said Singh, who is an MP from the Union Territory. He said there were also some states such as Rajasthan where there was an administrative deficit leading to several instances being reported from the state.

Discussing the Bill, many members, including NCP’s Supriya Sule, referred to the “jami jamai vyavastha” (well-entrenched system), as mentioned in the recent movie “12th Fail”. Responding to this, the minister said that the Bill is actually meant to act on this.

The members also questioned the need for a separate Bill when such malpractices were already covered by provisions of the IPC and the new BNS. Singh said that the Bill was meant as a specific legislation that has clearly defined provisions for only such malpractices in examinations.

Many members also asked how new technology driven malpractices will be handled, to which the minister said, “It is not part of the legislation so I did not mention, but when we formulate the rules, we have been thinking of creating a committee of experts who can do surveillance from time to time, help us understand, and update it from time to time, and also bring in uniformity. ” He said the number of aspirants has increased and there is a need to increase the number of vendors as well because sub-letting leads to loopholes.

The minister also responded to DMK member DM Kathir Anand, who said the government not conducting examinations in regional languages could be one of the reasons why cheating takes place. Singh said: “Our government has started examinations in 13 languages, including Tamil. We hope to gradually include all 22.”

The minister said meritorious students cannot be sacrificed due to malpractices.