A peanlty of Rs 200 or two years imprisonment. Under section 43 (1) to 43 (4) of Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) Act, 1972, this is the heaviest punitive action that still exists even after 43 years of laying down of this Act in 1972 to offences as blatant as leaking a question paper or intentionally sharing answersheet, marksheet or any other related document.
Things are expected to change after over four decades, likely before the next GSHSEB board examinations. With a record number of over 8,500 copying cases witnessed by the GSHSEB, this year and a still pending case of alleged paper leak of Class XII Biology subject, the board has sought a 250-time-hike in the penalty with an addition of a five fold increase in the imprisonment.
As per the report submitted to the state Education Department, the board has strongly recommended a revision of the archaic Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Act, 1972. Apart from the revision of rules stipulating handling of question papers and answer sheets, the board has sought to increase the penalty of two years for the offenders to 10 years and an existing fine of Rs 200 to be increased to Rs 50,000.
“The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education rules were laid down in the year 1972. There has been no revision in the penalty since then. It is a high time these should be revised though there is a long drawn process for making changes in the Act but we have pressed upon for these changes to the state government,” said Deputy Chairman of GSHSEB R R Thakkar.
The state education board that has pleaded of getting over from a toothless examination body to the enforcing one with judicial powers by pressing upon heavy penalty against offenders has also sought for introducing videography of the sealing process as well as dispatch right from the printing press, zonal officers and till delivery at each block level.
Further adding to the recommendations submitted to the Education Department, deputy chairman added, “These actions are no deterrent to the offenders as what is the value of Rs 200 in the present time. Anyone can get away with the severe of the offences by merely paying Rs 200. Also, at present, the power to take action against erring teachers deputed under examination duty rests with the school management committees or mandals. The board examination committee has recommended for these powers either with the board or with the state government.”
Also, to remove loopholes during dispatch and delivery of question papers to the examination centres, the board examination committee came up with another recommendation of draw of lots to replace the present practice of shortlisting the government representatives by zonal officers that give all the chances for choosing the “desired” ones. These government representatives are responsible for delivering question papers to each examination block.
Hearing on paper leak today
The representatives of the private school in Ahmedabad — that has been accused of leaking the Biology question paper of Class XII — will submit supporting evidence in its defence to the examination committee of GSHSEB on Tuesday. The school has maintained its stand that none of its employees was involved in leaking the question paper.
On the other side, the board has maintained that “neither any information or footage relayed on some news channels supported the incident of the paper getting leaked before it started. Despite this, a police compliant has been registered and the case is being investigated.
Any decision by the board will be taken after police investigations”. The matter is still being investigated while the board will submit its decision to the education department after the hearing scheduled on Tuesday.