can de-linking education and profession in architecture courses help in its better regulation?
The ministry of human resource development (MHRD) is likely to lose control over architecture colleges and institutes in the country. The proposal to transfer their reins from the mhrd to the ministry of urban development (MOUD), now called ministry of housing and urban affairs (MOHUA), was announced earlier this year by the cabinet secretary. The proposal calls for reallocation of the architects act, 1972 and Council of Architecture (COA) – established by the architects act – to the moud. The transfer has been recommended with a rationale that the profession will have more relevance with the ministry which deals with building activities and planning in urban areas. mhrd may also lose control over the prestigious School of Planning and architecture, delhi, as the government has reportedly accepted moud’s proposal to transfer the School of Planning and architecture act, 2014 too.
These developments have certainly caught the MHRD off guard, which has been also asked to hand over four schemes funding polytechnics to the ministry of skill development. even though HRD minister Prakash Javadekar recently claimed that “ministries do not fight over territory” in this government, it looks like his ministry is leaving no stone unturned to retain architecture education, which has been its achilles’ heel since early 2000s.
in march, The indian express reported that the then higher education secretary, VS oberoi, had made a case against the impending transfer, arguing that the architecture education falls within the meaning of ‘technical education’, which is regulated by all india council for Technical education (AICTE), and hence MHRD should retain it. However, the coa, which is empowered by the architects act to regulate architecture education, has pushed for its relocation to the moud. These disputed claims by coa and aicte have formed a ground for a legal battle between the two that has ensued for over a decade, and is also considered to be one of the main reasons behind the proposed transfer. While the matter of the regulatory overlap remains sub-judice in the supreme court till date, many point fingers towards the mhrd for not resolving the dispute between the two regulatory bodies.
The coa, which came into force on September 1, 1972, has the power to make regulations that may provide for “the courses and periods of study and of practical training, if any, to be undertaken, the subjects of examinations and standards of proficiency therein to be obtained in any college or institution for grant of recognised qualifications”. The council is also empowered to look after the standards of architectural education – in terms of quality of staff, equipment, facilities, training and accommodation. it solely holds the right to register the architects, issue licences to architecture graduates, enabling them to start working as professionals. While the regulation of the profession is entirely with the coa, regulation of the education is something it has been forced to share with another nationallevel regulatory council – aicte.
Founded in 1945, aicte is responsible for “proper planning and coordinated development of the technical education system throughout the country, the promotion of qualitative improvement 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.” The aicte act includes architecture education in its definition of ‘technical education’ – bringing it under the purview of two regulatory bodies (COA and AICTE).
The architects act mandates appointment of two aicte nominated persons as coa members to ensure better coordination. There was a memorandum of understanding (MOU) as well, signed by the two bodies for joint inspection and mutual acceptance of recognition and revalidation, which was terminated in the early 2000s by the aicte. notices claiming that they alone have the jurisdiction over control