Record Note of Meeting of Engineering Associations 25th July 2014 at 2:00 pm; CEAI Centre, New Delhi Regarding Council of Architecture (COA) matters

  1. President CEAI welcomed all the participants who had come from distant places to participate in the important meeting. He also acknowledged the inputs provided through emails by those who were unable to attend the meeting. He drew the attention of the participants to a note on “Successfully Meeting the Challenges Facing the Engineering Profession” which was circulated in the meeting and requested them to peruse it and revert with suggestions even later on. The list of participants is attached.
  2. President CEAI, explaining the background of the issue mentioned that it all really got aggravated when COA issued a Public Notice on 20th May 2013. He informed that the COA through parts of the notice was misguiding the parties addressed and the public at large. It sought to assert an erroneous interpretation of the Architects Act 1972 which was enacted just to provide for registration of architects and matters connected therewith. He added that in the Notice, the COA on the basis of Section 37 of the Architects Act, 1972 and circulars of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which were interim ones and not final, sought to overreach the proceedings sub judice in the Delhi High Court, to put a restriction on incorporated Company and LLPs to undertake practice of architecture as part of the offering of consultancy services. He clarified that there were a number of Court judgments clarifying that the stand of the COA is incorrect.
  3. He added that in light of the above some of the engineering associations CEAI, IAStructE, ECI and ACCE(I) met and decided on the actions to be taken. CEAI was identified as the nodal association for initiating action and also maintain a separate account for the funds received for the purpose. IE(I) were also invited to join. 
  4. Mr. Avinash Shirode briefly explained the history and basis of the Architects Act, 1972 and the functioning of COA. He added that he is a Council Members on behalf of IE(I).
  5. President CEAI informed that a legal notice was issued to COA to which they have not replied to date. Representations were also sent to the Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. The details of the development and the actions taken are given in a “Note for Engineers” which was also circulated to all the participants.
  6. Moving on to the present the President CEAI briefed about the meeting with Mr. Ashok Thakur, Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India along with Mr. S C Mehrotra, Mr. Mahendra Raj and Mr. Amitabha Bhattacharya on 24th July 2014 to brief him about the issues being created by the Council of Architecture – starting from the Public Notice of May 2013, the push for the Amendments to the Architect Act, 1972 and the surfeit of court cases involving the COA and some architects. The matter of introducing the Engineers Bill was also raised and it was suggested that it would help resolve most of the issues affecting the engineers. He added that Mr. Thakur gave a patient hearing and indicated that he would look into all the matters.
  7. President CEAI next informed about the meeting with Mr. Ashok Basa, President, Institution of Engineers (India) in which Mr. Mahendra Raj and Mr. Amitabha Bhattacharya also participated. Mr. Ashok Basa expressed his solidarity with the causes of the engineers and was willing to support the initiatives. The modus operandi would be worked out.
  8. President CEAI then invited Mr. Anish Dayal, Advocate who had been assisting in the COA matters to brief. Mr. Dayal informed the members that he had been representing the CEAI in matters already sub judice before the High Court. For the sake of convenience, he had got a compilation made of the matters pending and decided on the COA issue and was submitting a copy to the President CEAI. He highlighted that despite the fact that COA did not have a legal basis for trying to prohibit engineers from doing or being assigned architectural works, they were participating in numerous petitions filed through Mr. Sudhir Vohra as well as other architects. It was imperative that such petitions be kept track of and CEAI be impleaded in order to let the Courts be apprised of the correct legal position in the matter. He added that a new case Writ Petition No. 2069 of 2014 was coming up on 29.08.2014, yet again filed by Mr. Sudhir Vohra relating to Finance Ministry circulars for tendering and sought instructions regarding the same. After some discussions, Mr. Dayal was advised to implead on behalf of the engineering associations. Mr. Dayal added that it would be necessary to keep track on an all India basis and offered suggestions as to how to do it. He would in turn keep track of all such cases in the High Court of Delhi and in the Supreme Court. Mr. Dayal also submitted another compilation of decisions and cases which have been passed by various Courts all over India as well as the Parliaments Debates relating to the Architects Bill. These will help to assist all members to tackle any issue if it comes up within their states.
  9. Mr. Ashok Manhar and Mr. Vikram Saxena from the Association of Civil Engineers of Madhya Pradesh Bhopal Unit, briefed about the MP High Court order of 04-04-2014 and that the COA was now stepping in and have filed a review petition on that order. They opined that the Royal Charter of the IE(I) could safe guard the engineers. However, it was clarified by some participants that the Royal Charter while it is statutory, it does not have the same provisions as the Architects Act, 1972 and the acts of other professions such as Advocates, Chartered Accountants, Doctors, etc. and thus its scope and reach were limited.
  10. President CEAI then informed about the Professional Indemnity Insurance for all professional engineers being looked at by ECI which would help in alleviating some of the problems of the engineers. All participants as well the associations they represented/ belonged to were requested to send the information sought by ECI at the earliest so that they could conclude their discussions and negotiations with the insuring agencies.
  11. To ensure that all tendering by government agencies is not unfair and discriminatory to engineers due to the misconception being perpetrated by the COA, it was suggested by Mr. Kapila that the matter should be taken up with Secretary, (Expenditure), Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
  12. To obviate the unwarranted situation of arrest of an engineer in case of accident/ collapse, it was suggested by Mr. Avinash Shirode that the Ministry of Home Affairs would also need to be approached.
  13. After detailed discussion and many suggestions from the participants in the brainstorming session, the following action plan emerged.
  1. To continue to pursue the legal cases and other matters relating to issues created by COA and some architects vis-à-vis the intent of the Architects Act, 1972 per se and the interpretation of some of the sections of the Architects Act, 1972.
  2. To pursue appointment of representatives of engineers on the committee nominated by MHRD vide order no. F.No 4-22/2014-TS.VI dated 01-05-.2014 for the proposed amendments to the Architect Act, 1972. Not to allow the amendment if the engineers are not heard and their demand complied with.
  3. To pursue with MHRD the Engineers Bill, which has been pending for long.
  4. It was decided to supplement to the fund which CEAI is maintaining through contributions from other associations, organizations and individual members. No minimum amount is to be specified. Anyone can contribute whatever amount desired and any number of times. This would spread the base of the present effort and also result in enhancement of funds.
  5. Funds also need to be available and accounts maintained with local offices to cater to exigencies of that state/ region.
  6. To identify the registered engineering associations working elsewhere in State capitals and invite their Presidents/ Chairpersons to be on the panel of the Engineering Associations so as to have a broader representation of the engineering fraternity on all India basis and better means of communication with all the professional engineers. Some of the members offered to coordinate the activities in their States. Their names are as follows:
  1. Mr. Rahul Vakil, VMS Engineering & Design Services, Ahmedabad
  2. Mr. Vikram Saxena, Pyramid Consultants, Bhopal
  3. Mr. Chetan R Raikar, President ICACI & CMD, Structwel Designers & Consultants, Navi Mumbai
  4. Dr. Harshavardhan Subbarao, CMD, Construma Consultancy & Chairman CEAI Western Region Centre will work together with Mr. Chetan Raikar.

Following to be requested:

  1. Mr. P Suryaprakash, President and Mr. S Ratnavel, ACCE(I) for Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  2. Mr. Amitabah Ghoshal, Chairman, CEAI Eastern & North Eastern Region Centre and Mr. Amal Biswas, Chairman, Association of Multi-Disciplinary Engineering Consultants (AMEC) for West Bengal.
  3. Mr. Sanjay Singh, Association of Professional Graduate Civil Engineers (APGCE), Varanasi, UP for Uttar Pradesh.

The associations for other states would need to be identified for which the participants could send in their suggestions.

  1. The associations would be requested to identify a few (10 to 15) local advocates and empanel them so that any engineer who faces any action from local authorities including arrest due to failure/ collapse of a structure, system operation, etc. could approach any one of the advocates from the panel for immediate legal help, if the engineer so desires. Mr. Anish Dayal will also help in identifying the Advocates.
  2. The member associations would keep a vigil of any tender notice in their region which may be issued debarring engineer’s direct participation. They would also remain in close touch with all cases of engineers needing assistance.
  3. Take up with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India with a request to direct all the States that in case of failure of a structure or fatality on account of mis-operation/ malfunction of any system, the authorities should not initiate action to arrest the engineer unless preliminary investigation establishes that it is on account of a fault of the engineer(s). Once this message is sent across India, the situation may come under control and unwarranted arrest of engineer(s) in case of failure of a structure or fatality on account of mis-operation/ malfunction of any system may be avoided.
  4. Take up with the Secretary, (Expenditure), Ministry of Finance, Government of India the issue of directing all government tendering to ensure that engineers are not kept out of the qualifying parameters and no misconception is harboured on account of COA misrepresentations.

 

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS 

 

1 Mr. A P Mull President, CEAI

Director, Tata Consulting Engineers Limited

2 Mr. S C Mehrotra President, IAStructE

Member, Governing Council CEAI

Past President CEAI

Principal Consultant & CEO, Mehro Consultants 

3 Mr. K K Kapila President IRF

Member, Governing Council CEAI

Past President CEAI

CMD, ICT Pvt. Ltd.

4 Mr. Mahendra Raj Vice Chairman ECI

Member, Governing Council CEAI

Vice Chairman, ECI

Past President CEAI & IAStructE

Mahendra Raj Consultants Pvt. Ltd

5 Mr. Chetan R Raikar President ICACI

CMD, Structwel Designers & Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

6 Mr. Amitabha Bhattacharya Vice President, CEAI

Director, Development Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

7 Dr S Chatterjee,  Immediate Past President CEAI

S Chatterjee Associates Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

8 Mr. A S Brara Member Governing Council CEAI

MD, Mantec Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

9 Dr. Harshavardhan Subbarao Hon. Secretary IAStructE

Member, Governing Council CEAI

Chairman CEAI-Western Region Centre

CMD, Construma Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.

10 Mr. Somenath Ghosh Hon. Secretary, CEAI
11 Mr. R Gogia Engineering Projects Consultants
12 Mr. Manoj Kumar Mittal Vice President, IAStructE (Northern Region)

Member, Governing Council CEAI

Shelter Consulting Engineers

13 Mr. Mahesh Tandon Member IAStructE

Tandon Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

14 Mr. Avinash Shirode Member CEAI & ACCE(I)
15 Mr. Rahul Vakil Member CEAI

VMS Engineering & Design Services

16 Mr. Ashok Manhar Ashok Manhar and Associates, Bhopal
17 Mr. Vikram Saxena Pyramid Consultants, Bhopal
18 Mr. P N Shali Director, ECI
19 Mr. Alok Bhowmick B&S Engineering Consultants Pvt. Ltd
20 Mr. Anish Dayal Advocate
21 Mr. Siddharth Vaid Advocate
22 Mr. L D Gupta Director, CEAI

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