Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India requires that a person must possess a particular qualification to practice a particular profession. Accordingly, Parliament of India enacted the Architects Act in the year 1972 to regulate the Architectural Education and Practice throughout the country, under the scope of entry 26 of Concurrent List of Seventh Schedule.
Under the provisions of the Architects Act, the Council of Architecture has been constituted .It has Architect representatives from each of the State of India apart from nominees of Central Government, profession of architecture and educational institutions imparting architectural education. Council of Architecture has framed Regulations notified in the Gazette of India with the prior approval of the Central Government, with regard to minimum standards of education and professional conduct etc. Registration with Council entitles a person to practice the profession of an Architect, seek employment with the Government and take up teaching assignment.
There are 110 Schools of Architecture in India which include nearly 40 Universities or its constituent colleges. The remaining 70 are private colleges affiliated to Universities. Council of Architecture under the provisions of the Architects Act has prescribed minimum standards of education which include entry level qualification, requirement of aptitude test, teacher-student ratio, course and periods of studies and proficiency examination etc. It also deals with inspection of Schools of Architecture to oversee the maintenance of minimum standards of education, empowered to call for information on educational standards and examinations from all authorities granting recognized qualifications and to make recommendations to Central Government on recognition and de-recognition of Indian and foreign qualifications. Council of Architecture has been discharging its obligations in this regard since the enactment of the Act.
Parliament of India enacted another Act called All India Council for Technical Education in the year 1987, for proper planning and coordinated development of the technical Education system. The definition of technical education as provided in theAICTE Act, 1987, also include architecture besides engineering technology, town planning, management, pharmacy and applied arts and crafts. However, this act excludes universities and its constituent colleges from its purview, as enumerated in the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Bharathidasan University. Further, this Act describes the functions of AICTE for proper planning and co-ordinated development of the technical Education system (and not that of education) in consultation with other concerned agencies.
Accordingly, Council of Architecture had been providing necessary inputs with regard to Architectural Education in India to AICTE since its establishment and this arrangement was formalized by a Memorandum of Understanding signed betweenAICTE and COA in the year 1991 and renewed from time to time, so that AICTE could have a benefit of the expertise of the Council of Architecture, for which necessary provisions are there in the Architects Act, 1972.
However, we are concerned by a Public Notice given by AICTE in all national dailies and regional dailies on 7th and 8th December, 2003 to inform the public at large that AICTEshall be dealing with all matters connected with Architectural Education henceforth. It has also advised institutions imparting architectural education not to approach the Council of Architecture for any matter connected with architectural education. This public notice has since been challenged in the Hon’ble High Court of Madras by the Indian Institute of Architects and the Court has been very pleased to grant an order of interim injunction on this public notice on 15th December, 2003 .The AICTE notice has caused immense confusion and may lead to harassment to a number of Schools of Architecture, apart from doubts which have arisen in the minds of Architects that theAICTE is bent upon equating Architecture with Engineering.
The Architects are greatly disturbed by the effort of AICTE to encroach upon the architectural education, which is a very special education encompassing all major fields of human endeavour i.e. Art, Humanities, Science and Technology. Architecture calls for originality, creativity, conceptualization, perception, aesthetic values, understanding of environment and a holistic judgement of people, places, objects and events. It is well known that Parliament enacted a very special act called Architects Act in the year 1972, which is akin to Advocates Act & Medical Council Act, to ensure that this creative profession of Architects flourishes and the benefit of development of education and profession of architecture reaches public.
As regards position of law is concerned, it is well settled that special law cannot be superceded by general law, even though a general law has been enacted at a later date.
I, appeal to you to use your good offices to impress upon the Hon’ble Union Minister for Human Resource Development to intervene in the matter and to:
- restrain AICTE form its endeavour to encroach upon the field of architectural education;
- notify deletion of word “Architecture” from the definition of technical education given in AICTE Act and let Architects Act, 1972, deal with development of architectural education comprehensively to meet the requirements of the profession.
Your intervention at this juncture would be of great importance when our country is about to take a quantum leap in the new economic world. Indian Architecture, if allowed to flourish, could set the new bench marks for sustainable architecture, which also reflects ethos & culture of a place and responds to geoclimatic conditions of a region.
With warm regards and best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
December 20, 2003