On 8th November, 2019, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court of India constituted of CJ Ranjan Gogoi, J Deepak Gupta and J Aniruddha Bose held that the “ norms and Regulations set by the Council of Architecture (CoA) and other specified authorities under the Architects Act, 1972 would have to be followed by an institution imparting education for degrees and diplomas in architecture.”
The appeal to the apex court mainly involved the question as to the mandate of which administrative institution, namely CoA or the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) would prevail with regard to the granting of approvals and related matters to an institution for conducting architectural education course. The Council of Architecture, constituted under the provisions of Section 3 of the Architects Act 1972, provides for the registration of architects and the matters connected therewith. The Act also contains a schedule which lists the diplomas and degrees awarded by the Indian and foreign bodies. The All India Council for Technical Education was constituted under the provisions of Section 3 of the All India Council of Technical Education Act, 1987. The AICTE was empowered to “provide for a Council with a view to proper planning and coordinated development of the technical education system throughout the country, promotion of qualitative 3 improvements of such education in relation to planned quantitative growth and the regulation and proper maintenance of norms and standards in the technical education system and for matters connected therewith.”
Since both of the aforementioned regulatory bodies have been imbued with the powers to approve, recognize and monitor the working of the educational institution, the Supreme Court of India, after examination, felt that “so far as recognition of degrees and diplomas of architecture education is concerned, the Architects Act, 1972 shall prevail. AICTE will not be entitled to impose any regulatory measure in connection with the degrees and diplomas in the subject of architecture.” The Court opined that both the statutes have empowered their respective organizations with powers that overlap. However, the court also states that in case of direct conflicts and inconsistencies, it is to be remembered that the Acts do not tend to cause any such complication in the function of the two regulatory bodies.
The Court, after contemplation, believes that for any educational institution to be able to conduct any degree or diploma course in architecture, the Central Government must recognize this educational institution. In this regard, “the process of recognition and effects thereof are more expansive under the 1972 Act….The CoA under the said Act plays a key role in the process of recognition.” The bench also observed that “The scheme of the Act thus demonstrates that the lack of recognized qualification under the 1972 Act would in substance disentitle a person from being registered as an architect.” The Court believes that although the AICTE has direct power of approval, in cases of direct conflict with CoA, the CoA is dependent on the decision of the Central Government in that regard. It is easily discernible since the Central Government is imbued with authority superior to both the Councils established under their respective statutes.
Case Reference- AICTE v. Shri Prince Maratha Boarding House’s College of Architecture, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 364 OF 2005, verdict pronounced on 08/11/2019.