Revisions in Architects Act 1972 - An Overview

Opinions Dated:  Aug. 16, 2014
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Since the last 4 years or so, some of my professional brothers and I have raised issues concerning the Architects Act, 1972 in various Courts in India, basically because the Act was not adequately tested in the Courts, and because it contained ( in our belief ) differences between its intent and its implementation.

One of the results of this questioning was that the COA decided, in 2013, to suggest amendments to the Act.

These Amendments were proposed on various issues: matters concerning how the COA would function, matters concerning education of architecture and matters concerning the practise of architecture.

In October 2013, the COA held a  day long conclave in New Delhi for about 50 architects from all over India, mainly to discuss the various amendments proposed by the COA as well as to explain issues which had led to  why this proposed amendment Bill was drafted. Matters concerning the WTO, international trade, the illegal entry of Foreign Architects into the Indian market, liability issues of companies etc.

One of the main issues which has rankled Indian architects since 1972 is that Engineers practice architecture without calling themselves Architects. 

In the Absence of an Engineers Act in India, the term Engineers, Civil Engineers, Structural Engineers, etc have not been defined in law. Thus, Engineers cannot be held responsible for their advice, their drawings, their behaviour, and their conduct.

The lack of an Engineers law allows them to masquerade as Architects, Developers, Builders, et all, etc without any law being in place to fix their responsibility.

This basic issue was addressed by the COA in the New Amendment Bill - the new Bill defines what is "architectural services, and practice " in accordance with the WTO definitions and also other international laws.

This basic issue has rankled the Engineers Lobby again, and understandably too.

The letter was addressed last month by Shri. Mahender Raj (now 91 years old) to Shri. J.R. Bhalla (now 94 years old), as Mr. Bhalla had been asked by the UPA 2 govt to opine on the COA proposals , assisted by a Committee.

The current NDA Govt of Mr. Modi has not yet moved on the matter. However, the enclosed letter clearly shows how and why the Engineers Lobby does not want any change, and is thus appealing to the old Architects Lobby to retain status quo on the issue.

I would request you to state your veiws here for an open debate, which will then be presented on record to the Bhalla Committee.

I believe that in the current day and age, the cures to all the ills of democracy is more transparency. Shri Bhalla must know what other architects feel about this letter by Shri Raj, and the Engineers Association. 

We can no longer allow the seniors to get away by presenting their own views clothed behind such Committees and opaque ways of working.

I believe Prof Vaidya and Mr. Bhalla must have the benefit of your views. Please feel free to share this with your architect friends and colleagues. The Committee meets again on the 20th August. Let us know your thoughts below ASAP.

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