HRD clips wings as CoA battles it out in courts

CHENNAI, DECEMBER 14: What led the HRD Ministry to strip the
Council of Architecture (CoA) of its powers to regulate architecture
education in the country?

Not many know that behind the appropriation of the regulatory
powers by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) lies the CoA
's recent legal battles against different wings of the ministry.

The genesis of the issue lies in a litigation filed by the
Andhra Pradesh chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects some months
ago. The IIA AP chapter had joined issue with the AICTE over the latter's
decision to permit lateral entry admissions for B. Arch courses. It
contended that the CoA's objections to lateral entry admissions would
prevail over the AICTE decision as the CoA was set up by an Act of
Parliament in 1972. The AICTE came into the scene only in 1987. When the
dispute persisted, the AP chapter moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court where
the case is now pending. ''This led to bad blood between the two bodies,''
says an IIA office-bearer.

Ironically, the MoU was signed ''to avoid duplication of efforts
'' in regulating architecture education. In the meantime, the Tamil Nadu
chapter of the IIA hauled up Anna University in the court for seeking to do
away with the conduct of aptitude test at the entrance level for B. Arch
admissions. It even successfully moved a contempt petition against the
varsity Vice-Chancellor. It also took offence to the manner in which the
Tamil Nadu government had gone ahead with inviting architectural designs for
the new Secretariat project and sought to de-recognise the architects who
had placed tenders.

What seems to have been the final icing on the cake was the AP
and TN chapters' decision to confront the CBSE, a key HRD Ministry body, on
the manner of conducting the entrance test for admission to B. Arch courses
in Central universities. The CBSE had announced that a mere pass in Std XII
was sufficient to take the entrance examination, whereas the CoA had
prescribed a minimum of 50 per cent marks in higher secondary to qualify.
There were other such violations of the CoA regulations.

Both the IIA chapters moved the HC last month and obtained an
injunction restraining the CBSE from conducting the exam scheduled for May
2004. This was something the ministry could not digest. Now by stripping the
CoA of its powers, the stay could be lifted. But an IIA member says 'We
could have snapped ties with the AICTE as there is a provision for
terminating the agreement by either of the parties. This does not hamper our
functioning. We have powers to regulate architecture education''.