History of Architects Bill

The developments leading to the Architects Bill are best recorded in the statement of Shri M H Samuel (Andhra Pradesh), Member of Rajya Sabha in the discussions of 7 May 1970.

“A legislation was conceived in our country for architects 25 years ago, and this legislation is going now before Parliament after 25 years. I do not remember any legislation first conceived and then bearing fruit after a period of 25 years. And therefore, as I said in the beginning, engineers practising as architects and architects qualified in architecture, have been looking forward to this day.

The first Architects Bill was drafted somewhere in 1947. It was circulated to the States. Their opinions were solicited. Later, the whole thing went moribund. For 15 years nobody ever said anything about it, nobody thought anything about it. Then the architects revived their demand. In 1960 discussions again began with all the persons concerned within profession, and eight years later, the Bill was introduced in this House, in 1968. It was referred to a Joint Select Committee in 1969 and the Bill is now before the House.” 

The draft Bill of 1968 provided for the title and definition of architect which the Joint Select Committee (JSC) “immediately realised that this impinged very effectively upon the functions of an engineer.” 

During this period, several drafts of the Bill were prepared and State Governments, the AlCTE and other authorities were consulted while finalizing the draft Bill. The desire of the Government was to bring forward a Bill, which would satisfy the legitimate demands of architects, but not impinge on the right of engineers and others in the pursuit of their own vocations in life, including the practice of architecture.

After taking all factors into consideration, the Committee agreed that the definition of the term “architect” should be amended. The liberalized provision will go a long way in meeting the representation of a large number of persons (engineers), who feared that they will be deprived of their legitimate rights and means of livelihood, in which they have been engaged for a long time.

As per Shri Samuel’s speech, the JSC discussed the draft Bill in detail and made “fundamental changes” and thus limited the scope to provide only for the protection of the use of the title and style of “architect.

“… ultimately, the whole Committee came to the conclusion that it is better not to ‘define an architect but merely confine an architect registered under this Act. This was one of the fundamental changes that the Joint Select Committee thought it wise to make. I personally have no regrets for making it and I am happy to say that the President of the Institute of Engineers and “the President of the Institute of Architects both came forward with the same suggestion—”All right, Sir, leave out the definition; let us be just registered architects.” As a matter of fact, the President of the Institute of Architects, Mr. Bhalla, who appeared before the Committee, was very co-operative. He wrote a letter to the Committee suggesting that this definition need not be there at all; and he is a man who has. been demanding for the Architects Bill. He wanted somehow that the Bill should be passed as quickly as possible. As a result of this, certain consequential changes had to be made. Now anybody can design and erect a building without calling himself an architect. It is a big change. This has met the viewpoints of both the engineers as well as the architects. Therefore, we confirmed the view that we were only protecting the title of architects and not the profession of architects.”

After approval of the amendments mooted by the Joint Select Committee, the Architects Bill was reintroduced in the Rajya Sabha on 10 April 1972.

Prof. S. Nurul Hasan, the then Minister of Education, Social Welfare and Culture while introducing the Bill inter alia stated as follows:

“Sir, as the House knows, this question of the registration of architects and regulation of the profession of architects has been under the consideration of the Government of India for a long time. After a careful consideration of all aspects of the matter, the Central Government prepared the draft of a Bill which was discussed in all Ministries of the Government of India, the State Governments, professional bodies, and the All-India Council of Technical Education, and on that basis a Bill was introduced in this House on the 10th December, 1968. Then the House discussed it on the 15th May, 1969 and decided on a motion of the then Education Minister to refer it to a Joint Committee of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. And the other House concurred in this decision and therefore, a Committee of 15 Members of Rajya Sabha and 30 Members of Lok Sabha under the Chairmanship of my late friend, the honourable Shri Henry Samuel, went into the details of this Bill. It received representations and references from a large number of professional organisations, individuals, and finally submitted its report on the 20th November, 1969. The amendments by the Joint Committee to the provisions of the original Bill were passed by Rajya Sabha on the 7th May, 1970. Then the Bill, as amended by Rajya Sabha, came-up for a detailed discussion before the Lok Sabha on the 25th, 26th and 27th November, 1970. The Lok Sabha approved of all the amendments which the Rajya Sabha had accepted on the basis of the report of the Joint Committee, but it also decided to make certain other amendments. Now, these amendments we were hoping would be also accepted by Rajya Sabha. But before this could happen, the fourth Lok Sabha was dissolved and the Bill lapsed. The Government have, therefore, taken this opportunity of bringing before the House this Bill which incorporates all the amendments made by the Joint Committee as also the amendments accepted by Rajya Sabha and the amendments accepted by the previous Lok Sabha. It is now in a final form and 1 would crave your indulgence, Mr. Vice-Chairman, to appeal to the House to accept it without further discussion in depth since all aspects have been discussed in this long process which I have placed for your consideration.”

He also clarified that

“In this register, not only those who possess the necessary architectural qualification can be registered, but also all those who have been actually engaged in the profession of ‘Architect’ for a minimum period of five years, even though they may not be possessing the architectural qualifications, can be registered. Apart from that, any engineer or other qualified person can continue to engage himself in design, supervision and construction of buildings, as long as he does not style himself as an architect.”

The Architects Bill was accordingly discussed then passed and thus it became an Act in 1972.

Prepared by Mr. Avinash V Shirode & Mr. A P Mull