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Adjourned, plan to cleanse exam process

- Assembly fails to clear proposed bill to check malpractice at examination centres

Bhubaneswar, Dec 19: The state government’s plan to increase the quantum of punishment in malpractice cases has received a setback following its failure to pass the Odisha Conduct of Examination (Amendment) Bill, 2013, during the winter session of the Assembly that was adjourned sine die ahead of schedule.

The proposed bill aims to check abetment of malpractice by college officials leading to question leak. In many cases, it has been alleged that the authorities of some private colleges indulge in exam malpractice to boost their track record.

“Taking this year’s Plus Two question leak incident into account, we had brought the bill to create a sense of fear among officials not to encourage malpractice,” said a senior officer of the higher education department.

In March, the government found itself in a spot after the Plus Two question-leak incident led to the rescheduling of physics and chemistry papers for nearly 77,700 students.

Later, it ordered a Crime Branch inquiry and five officials of three residential colleges, including a senior officer of the Council of Higher Secondary Education in Sambalpur, were arrested.

According to the proposed bill, if mass copying is detected at any examination centre or question paper is leaked, the centre superintendent and head of that educational institution shall be deemed to have abetted the commission of offence and punished with imprisonment for three to seven years and be liable to pay fine up to Rs 1 lakh.

There is also a provision to recover the amount spent in holding the re-examination from the accused person.

“We have to wait for these things to be a reality till it is passed in the Assembly,” said a senior officer.

Higher education minister Badri Narayan Patra said: “We have a number of mechanisms to introduce the required reforms in the coming Plus Two exams. But, it would have been better if the bill was passed. It has scope to award punishment to people involved in abetting malpractice. It can be taken up during the short session likely to be held next year.”

Another important bill that aims to provide status of non-affiliated university along with autonomy to Veer Surendra Sai Medical College and Hospital at Burla will have to wait for another three months as the Assembly is scheduled to hold a short session in February next year.

Assembly secretary Amiya Kumar Sarangi said: “The bills are now the Assembly’s property. The treasury bench can issue a notice and pass it in the House. Later, the bills will be sent to the governor for his assent. When a notification is issued to this effect, it will become a law.”

Even the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (Amendment) Bill, which aims to create an office of pro-chancellor to facilitate better functioning of the university and reduce the tenure of the BPUT vice-chancellor from five years to three years to bring uniformity with other state universities and grant autonomy to the constituent colleges. “All works are done. But, we have to wait till it gets the Assembly’s nod,” said an official.

Two other bills that were not passed in the Assembly during the winter session included the Odisha Pani Panchayat (Amendment) Bill, 2013, and the Indian Stamp (Odisha Amendment) Bill, 2013.