A Press Conference was conducted by the consulting engineer’s fraternity under the umbrella of Consulting Engineers Association of India, Indian Association of Structural Engineers, Association of Consulting Civil Engineers (India), Engineering Council of India, and The Institution of Engineers (India), on 12th September 2013 at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110003.
Mr. A P Mull, President of Consulting Engineers Association of India (CEA) briefed the Press about the Public Notice issued by Council of Architecture on 20th May 2013 and cautioned against being misled by assertions made by the said Public Notice dated 20.05.2013. Parts of the notice seek to misguide and the COA, by this illegal exercise of power, attempts to overreach proceedings sub judice before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in W.P.(C) No. 934 of 2012. The COA’s notice asserts an erroneous interpretation of the Architects Act, 1972 which was enacted merely to provide for registration of architects and for matters connected therewith by those who wished to use the title and style of ‘architect’. The Act does not prohibit the practice of architecture or consultancy by any person. Accordingly, no person is prohibited from giving advice or practicing consultancy on architectural related works by the Architects Act, 1972. The only restriction being that the person is not entitled to use the title and style of ‘architect’ unless registered with the COA, as per the Act.
It was further informed that the engineering associations have sent representations to the Ministries as the issue affects 40 lakhs engineers in the country.
As compared to engineers there are very less number of architects in India and one notice issued erroneously cannot jeopardize the prospects of so many professionals.
Mr. S C Mehrotra, President, Indian Association of Structural Engineers said that the structural engineers are responsible for the safety of the building as per the National Building Code. The work done by non-technical people can prove hazardous for the nation.
Dr. Uddesh Kohli, Chairman, Engineering Council of India – a federation of engineers- said that the architects cannot supervise engineering work, whereas the architects’ have a statutory body, the engineers are still pushing for the Engineers’ Act, a long pending demand of the engineers for around last 30 years. All the countries have an Engineers’ Act but India does not have such an Act inspite of our very consistent efforts. If we had such a legislature, then we as a statutory body could take up this issue more emphatically. It is a total apathy on the part of the Government. By not doing this the engineers are not made responsible and accountable to the public.
Mr. Amitabha Bhattacharya, Council Member, Institution of Engineers’ India, added that the issue is simply that, instead of cooperating and working together, COA has chosen to issue a public notice and misinterpret the Act. In reality, Architects and Engineers have to work in unison.
A query was raised that since the Council of Architecture’s notice is not against the engineers, then how could that jeopardize the profession of engineers. It was clarified that if there are five architects working in an engineering firm, they cannot take up the job of architects as the title of the company is engineering but at the same time these architects are competent to practice on their own. Hence, the notice has created doubts and has far reaching implications on the profession of consulting and professional engineers.
Dr. P. R. Swarup, D.G., CIDC also said that what COA is doing amounts to misuse of authority, which it does not really have. The COA needs to look at it as the true intent of the Act and work with other in close coordination.
While The Architects’ Act, 1972 seeks only to protect the use of the title and style of an ‘architect’ by persons and firms of Architects and create a registry for registration of those who wish to use the title and style of ‘architect’, it does not prohibit other qualified persons from practicing the profession of architecture or providing architectural services. This critical distinction had been specifically debated and provided for by the Parliament and has been upheld time and again by our Courts. However, it is now sought to be systematically blurred and obliterated at the behest of the Council of Architecture and its members in order to create a monopoly of sorts.
There are several Court judgments which have upheld the competence of engineers at par with architects for architectural work based upon an interpretation of Architects Act and other facts.
This notice of Council of Architecture is also prohibiting the foreign architects from taking up work in India could that jeopardize the upgradation of the profession and stymieing competition.
Architects and engineers need to co-exist in the interest of the country and in their own interest. The situation and understanding in small towns is different from that in big towns and cities, hence all issues must be looked at in their correct perspective. Hence, they need to withdraw the Public Notice which is erroneous and illegal based on wrong interpretations of the Architects’ Act 1972.
The Associations and Institutions representing the interests of the professional engineers of India would like to caution the public in the interest of safety, health and the well being of society and environment at large to avail services only from persons who possess requisite knowledge, expertise and qualification for building and other projects.