By Rohit and Jhalak Some Rajya Sabha seats will be contested over the next year.  The Presidential elections are also scheduled to be held in 2012.  The recent assembly elections has implications for both these elections.  The Presidential elections will depend on the strenght in the assemblies, in Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha (which could change over the next year).  Implications for Rajya Sabha Elections The composition of Rajya Sabha may undergo some changes.  A total of 12 Rajya Sabha seats are up for election in 2011.  This includes 6 seats from West Bengal, 3 from Gujarat and 1 each from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Goa.  Another 65 seats, across 18 states, go for elections in early 2012.  The largest chunk of these seats comes from UP(10), followed by Andhra Pradesh(6), Bihar(6) and Maharashtra(6). Since Rajya Sabha members are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the State, a change in the composition of the assembly can affect the election outcome.  We used the current assembly compositions to work out scenarios for Rajya Sabha in 2011 and 2012.  There could be alliances between parties for the Rajya Sabha elections, so we have estimated a range for each grouping (Scenario I and II) for 2012.  See Notes [1] and [2]. 

Parties/ Coalitions 2010 Scenario 2011 Scenario 2012
      I II
UPA 89 94 95 97
NDA 65 65 67 66
Left 22 19 14 14
BSP 18 18 19 19
SP 5 5 6 6
AIADMK 4 5 5 5
BJD 6 6 5 5
Other parties 18 18 20 19
Independent 6 6 5 5
Nominated 8 9 9 9
Total 241 245 245 245

Implications for the election of the President The President is elected in accordance with the provisions of Article 54 and 55 of the Constitution.  The electorate consists of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and all Legislative Assemblies.  Each MP/ MLA's vote has a pre-determined value based on the population they represent.  The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.  The winning candidate must secure at least 50% of the total value of votes polled. (For details, refer to this Election Commission document).  There is no change in the Lok Sabha composition (unless there are bye-elections). Position in Legislative Assemblies After the recent round of assembly elections, the all-India MLA count adds up to:

UPA 1613
NDA 1106
Left 205
BSP 246
BJD 103
SP 95
Others 597

The above numbers can now be used to estimate the value of votes polled by each coalition. See Note [3]:

Value of votes cast Scenario - 1 Scenario - 2
UPA 439,437 440,853
NDA 307,737 307,029
Left 51,646 51,646
BSP 77,243 77,243
SP 38,531 38,531
AIADMK 36,392 36,392
BJD 28,799 28,799
Others 119,097 118,389
Total 1,098,882 1,098,882
Min. to be elected 549,442 549,442

The UPA has the highest value of votes polled but the figure is not sufficient to get its candidate elected.  Assuming that there are at most three candidates with significant support (UPA, NDA, and Left/Third Front), the winner will be the one who manages to bridge the gap with second preference votes.  On this factor, the UPA backed candidate is likely to hold the edge over others.  Notes: [1] At present, there are four vacant seats in Rajya Sabha (1 Maharashtra, 1 TN, 1 WB and 1 Nominated).  It is assumed that all these seats are filled up in 2011. [2] Three of the 11 nominated members in the current Rajya Sabha have declared their party affiliation as INC.  These have been included in the UPA count in the above analysis.  For the sake of simplicity, it is assumed that members who get nominated in 2011/ 12 are not aligned to any party/ coalition. [3] The above analysis is based on the assumption that the next set of assembly elections happen after the Presidential election.

In the last few years, several states have enacted laws to curb cheating in examinations, especially those for recruitment in public service commissions.   According to news reports, incidents of cheating and paper leaks have occurred on several occasions in Uttarakhand, including during the panchayat development officer exams in 2016, and the Uttarakhand Subordinate Services Selection Commission exams in 2021.  The Uttarakhand Public Service Commission papers were also leaked in January 2023.  The most recent cheating incidents led to protests and unrest in Uttarakhand.   Following this, on February 11, 2023, the state promulgated an Ordinance to bar and penalise the use of unfair means in public examinations.  The Uttarakhand Assembly passed the Bill replacing the Ordinance in March 2023.  There have been multiple reports of candidates being arrested and debarred for cheating in public examinations for posts such as forest guard and secretariat guard after the ordinance’s introduction.  Similar instances of cheating have also been noted in other states.   As per news reports, since 2015, Gujarat has not been able to hold a single recruitment exam without reported paper leaks.  In February 2023, the Gujarat Assembly also passed a law to penalise cheating in public examinations.  Other states such as Rajasthan (Act passed in 2022), Uttar Pradesh (Act passed in 1998) and Andhra Pradesh (Act passed in 1997) also have similar laws.  In this blog, we compare anti-cheating laws across some states (see Table 1), and discuss some issues to consider.

Typical provisions of anti-cheating laws

Anti-cheating laws across states generally contain provisions that penalise the use of unfair means by examinees and other groups in public examinations such as those conducted by state public sector commission examinations and higher secondary education boards.  Broadly, unfair means is defined to include the use of unauthorised help and the unauthorised use of written material by candidates.  These laws also prohibit individuals responsible for conducting examinations from disclosing any information they acquire in this role.  The more recent laws, such as the Gujarat, Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan ones, also include the impersonation of candidates and the leaking of exam papers within the definition of unfair means.  Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh prohibit the use of electronic aids.  Maximum prison sentences for using such unfair means range from three months in Uttar Pradesh, to seven years in Andhra Pradesh. 

Issues to consider

The Gujarat and Uttarakhand anti-cheating Acts have relatively stringent provisions for cheating.  The Uttarakhand Act has a fixed 3-year prison sentence for examinees caught cheating or using unfair means (for the first offence).  Since the Act does not distinguish between the different types of unfair means used, an examinee could serve a sentence disproportionate to the offence committed.  In most other states, the maximum imprisonment term for such offences is three years.   Andhra Pradesh has a minimum imprisonment term of three years.  However, all these states allow for a range with respect to the penalty, that is, the judge can decide on the imprisonment term (within the specified limits) depending on the manner of cheating and the implications of such cheating.  Table 1 below compares the penalties for certain offences across eight states.

The Uttarakhand Act has a provision that debars the examinee from state competitive examinations for two to five years upon the filing of the chargesheet, rather than upon conviction.  Thus, an examinee could be deprived of giving the examination even if they were innocent but being prosecuted under the law.  This could compromise the presumption of innocence for accused candidates.  The Gujarat and Rajasthan laws also debar candidates from sitting in specified examinations for two years, but only upon conviction. 

These laws also vary in scope across states.  In Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, the laws only apply to competitive examinations for recruitment in a state department (such as a Public Commission).   In the other six states examined, these laws also apply to examinations held by educational institutions for granting educational qualifications such as diplomas and degrees.  For example, in Gujarat, exams conducted by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board are also covered under the Gujarat Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2023.   The question is whether it is appropriate to have similar punishments for exams in educational institutions and exams for recruitment in government jobs, given the difference in stakes between them.

Sources: The Rajasthan Public Examination (Measures for Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Act, 2022; the Uttar Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 1998; the Chhattisgarh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2008; the Orissa Conduct of Examinations Act, 1988; the Andhra Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Malpractices and Unfair means) Act, 1997; the Jharkhand Conduct of Examinations Act, 2001, the Uttarakhand Competitive Examination (Measures for Prevention and Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Act, 2023, the Gujarat Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Methods) Act, 2023; PRS.