February 6, 2024
Kalyan Banerjee’s speech on The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024
The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, has brought different stages and ‘unfair means’ has been categorised under clause 3 of the Bill. What I intend to say is that all these categories are already covered by the Indian Penal Code and Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 also which has been passed but has not been implemented yet. Up till today, whenever and wherever this sort of activity is performed, criminal proceedings vis-à-vis civil proceedings are initiated against the perpetrator. I have consistently been saying for last few years that in our country there is no deficiency of laws to cover these criminal activities, but the problem is the implementation. The law is passed in this Parliament with the Parliament’s wisdom. But ultimately, it has to be implemented by the implementing agency. That is the greatest failure in our country today. Still, I am saying this. I am not objecting to anything, but still I am saying that all the activities are already covered. Clause 15 of the Bill says, “The provisions of the Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other law for the time being in force.” Therefore, existing laws are there. You are further categorizing it, making a sub-category, mini sub-category, but in a broader sense, it all exists. The question is whether the Central Government has taken steps in respect of this maladministration whenever malpractices happened and whenever such offences were committed. Sir, through you, I want to know this from the hon. Minister. For the last five or 10 years, in how many cases has this law been implemented by the Central Government, prosecution has been done, conviction has been made. These answers should be given. No one indulges in these types of activities, but the point remains that sometimes something is said which is very attractive. It goes well into the ears, but the question is, is it established? In our country today, unfortunately, we go by media trials. In any sensitive criminal case, media trial is there. Everybody is facing this, whether it is the Central Government whether it is a State Government, whether it is a Central Minister, whether it is a State Minister etc. They prove it before the case starts. Naturally, consequences have to follow. Public criticism is there like, ‘this man is bad, that man is bad, this Minister is bad, that Minister is bad’. But I do not believe in that until it is proved and established in the court of law. Our country is going in that direction. All the Ministers are here. I will request the hon. Minister that whenever a criminal case is there, court is seized of the matter, public trials should be stopped. Anyone is made not only accused, but he is made a criminal instantly. Let us take a case. A Minister’s name is involved. Nobody knows whether it has been done by him or not. Public trial is there. A Minister’s relative is involved. It is immediately taken in that way in the media trial that this gentleman is a relative of that Minister. Therefore, the media trial ruins his career. I will request the hon. Ministers to please think about this also. Ultimately justice is not done. Justice has to be done in their cases. It should be seen whether he has really indulged in such malpractices or whether he has done anything or whether anyone has really done the criminal activities or not. Sir, I was not here but I was told that someone has mentioned about the scam of West Bengal in appointment of teachers. I just tell you. Some allegations were there. All the cases will be seen in future. All the unsuccessful persons come. Unsuccessful persons come, lodge complaints against the successful persons. This is a scenario. After four years or five years, they are coming. In West Bengal also, some unsuccessful persons have come. One of the single Judges of the Kolkata High Court by a judgment terminated the services of 32,000 Primary Teachers and directed to start a fresh selection process. The matter went in appeal. The appeal court stayed the termination but directed to continue the selection process. The matter went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court set aside the entire order. This happened all because of the media trial. There was no evidence. Nothing has been established. If you speak about a story of ‘scam, scam, scam’, it has to be established in the court of law. In another case, the same learned Judge terminated the services of 15,000 teachers and employees. They went up to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has set that aside because the principles of law have not been followed. Follow the principles of law. I am not saying that if any malpractice is there, no steps should be taken. Steps should be taken. But it should be in accordance with law, not because of someone’s saying. There must be a concrete proof. Before you reach to the conclusion that malpractices have been done, there must be an established fact, concrete evidence. It should not be done because of saying of someone. Today there is social media. Anybody can lodge any complaint against anyone. Steps have been taken on that basis. It cannot be done in this way. Therefore, what I am suggesting is this. As far as Clause 3 is concerned, it is having two consequences. One is criminal consequences, another one is civil consequences. The moment it comes up that some malpractice has been done, 2500 students are there, 2500 students are scrapped. But all 2500 students have not done it. May be 100 people have done it or 150 people have done it. May be 200 people have done it. The problem in the country is this. Whichever is the investigating agency or the Inquiry Committee, without identifying those 150 or 200 persons, they are coming up with a report, etc., as if 2500 persons are involved in this. This is not justice. All students cannot be said to be dishonest. I am sorry, I do not agree to it. All persons cannot be said to be dishonest. Dishonest persons may be there; there may be one per cent or two per cent who are dishonest. Our young generation is brilliant. Our young generation is honest. Our young generation is sincere. Our young generation will develop our country. We believe and we are having a trust. But if there is one or there are two persons, segregate it, please. I do not find anywhere any such process, whether CBI comes, whether any investigating agency comes. I have a number of experiences. Whether it is in the Indian Railways or other places, only one report is coming. But segregation is not there. For someone committing a criminal activity, the rest should not suffer. The Central Government must look into that. Whoever is the agency, whoever is conducting it, please apply your mind. Look into the matter; segregate it. Please do not go on the basis of the media trial. A few Judges are there also nowadays in our country – in the evening they are watching TV shows and in the morning they are reading newspapers – who are deciding the matter on that basis without adhering to the established principles of law. Of course, the provisions are good. I would seek one clarification from the hon. Minister. Since you have said ‘in addition to’, if impositions of penalty are different, let us assume here it is one year, and in that it is three years, then what will happen to that? Which law would be followed? With these words, I extremely extend my thanks to the hon. Chairperson. Also, I have conveyed possibly whatever I had to say to the hon. Minister. I have just missed. Sorry for that. Please do not mind.