• Ms. Kanika Balhara

Council of Architecture v. Mukesh Goyal (2020 SCC OnLine SC 329)

CASE

Council of Architecture v. Mukesh Goyal


CITATION

2020 SCC OnLine SC 329


CORAM

Supreme Court of India

Division Bench - Hon’ble Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Hon’ble Justice Ajay Rastogi


POINT OF CONSIDERATION

Section 37 of the Architects Act does not prohibit individuals not registered under the Architects Act from undertaking the practice of architecture and its cognate activities.


FACTS

  1. The present appeal arises out of three writ petitions filed by the first respondent before the High Court of Allahabad. The first respondent has been working as an Architectural cum Planning Assistant in the service of the third respondent, the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority since January 1988 and claims to possess a degree in architecture from the Indian Institute of Architects.

  2. A meeting was held by NOIDA on 20 March 2006 to decide whether a degree in Architecture and Town Planning and a degree in Architecture was necessary for candidates who were to be promoted to the posts of Associate Town Planner and Associate Architect. An opinion was sought from the Mukhya Nagar Gram Niyojak, Uttar Pradesh (Town and Country Planning Department, Uttar Pradesh).

  3. In a letter dated 22 December 2008, the Mukhya Nagar Gram Niyojak recommended that a degree or diploma in the relevant subjects should be an essential qualification for candidates seeking promotion.

  4. Before the High Court of Allahabad, the first respondent filed three writ petitions. In the writ petitions, the first respondent also impleaded the present appellant, the Council of Architecture which is the regulatory body for the profession of architecture in India.

  5. By an amendment to Writ Petition 22155 of 2011 made in 2013, the first respondent challenged the Promotion Policy 2005 in so far as it permitted the promotion of candidates to the post of Associate Town Planner / Associate Architect without requiring that such candidates should hold a degree in Architecture recognised under the Architects Act.

  6. The High Court of Allahabad observed that Regulation 16 of the Service Regulations 1981, conferred NOIDA with the power to lay down the conditions and qualifications for promotions in the authority‘s various departments. NOIDA had laid down these conditions and qualifications in the Promotion Policy 2005. The High Court noted that the sole ground for challenging the Promotion Policy 2005 was that it allegedly fell foul of Sections 14 and 37 of the Architects Act.

  7. In disposing of the writ petitions, the High Court of Allahabad held that the mere nomenclature of the particular post will not in any way be said to violate the provisions of the Architects Act 1971‖. Therefore, the High Court permitted NOIDA to continue referring to the Class II posts as Associate Town Planner and Associate Architect. The High Court further noted that as a central legislation, the requirements set out in the Architects Act could not be read into the Promotion Policy 2005 which is a regulation formulated under a state legislation, namely the U.P. Industrial Area Development Act.

  8. The Council of Architecture had challenged the decision of the High Court in holding that Section 37 of the Architects Act does not prohibit individuals not registered with the Council from practicing architecture in India.

ISSUES RAISED & RATIO

  • Whether Section 37 of the Architects Act 1972 merely prohibits the use of the title “Architect” by individuals not registered with the Council of Architecture under Chapter 3 of the enactment or alternatively whether Section 37 actually prohibits unregistered individuals from carrying out the practice of architecture and its cognate activities?

The text of Section 37 uses the phrase “no person shall ... use the title and style of architect”. Therefore, on a plain reading of the section, the legal prohibition created is on the use of the ―title and style of architect‖. Title and style are distinct from practice. While a prohibition on the use of a title merely restricts an individual from attaching the said title to their name in referring to or representing themselves to others, a prohibition on practice creates a bar on the actual undertaking of specific actions. The most compelling evidence that the two concepts are materially distinct is the varied usage of the two phrases by the legislature.


It has been contended that one of the objects and purposes of the Architects Act is to prevent untrained individuals from designing, supervising and constructing buildings. It has further been contended that registration under the Architects Act forms an essential part of the regulatory regime for architects as it ensures that architects possess adequate educational qualifications. Therefore, it is urged that Section 37 must be read in a manner which prohibits unregistered individuals from practicing the profession of architecture and cognate activities in order to prevent the harms arising from unqualified individuals providing critical architectural services.


By virtue of the Architects Act, anybody engaging the services of an individual calling themselves an ―Architect‖ is assured that such an individual possesses statutorily recognised educational qualifications and is competent to complete the task at hand. It is in this manner that the legislature protects the common person from untrained individuals.

For the above reasons, we affirm the decision of the High Court of Allahabad on the first question and hold that Section 37 of the Architects Act does not prohibit individuals not registered under the Architects Act from undertaking the practice of architecture and its cognate activities.

  • Whether a government post titled or styled using the term “Architect” can be held by individuals not registered with the Council of Architecture?

While the court has held that Section 37 does not prohibit the practice of architecture by unregistered individuals, it certainly does prohibit unregistered individuals from using the title and style‖ of architect. Under the scheme of the Architects Act, only individuals possessing the statutorily recognised minimum educational qualifications can apply for registration as an “Architect” under the Act. Registration as an architect under the statute is thus a guarantee of possessing certain minimum educational qualifications.


In response to the second question the court disapproved of the view of the High Court of Allahabad and held that NOIDA cannot promote or recruit individuals who do not hold a degree in architecture recognised by the Architects Act to a post that uses the title or style of “architect”. However, the authority is free to change the nomenclature of the post to any alternative as long as it does not violate the provisions of the Architects Act by using the style and title of “architect” in its name.


IMPORTANT CASES REFERRED

  1. Mukesh Kumar Manhar v Sri Ram Singh Ahirwar 2006 (1) MPLJ 238

  2. Indian Express Newspapers v Union of India (1985) 1 SCC 641

  3. Municipal Corporation of Delhi v Ram Kumar Bhardwaj (1980) 18 DLT 283

  4. Om Prakash Mittal v Council of Architecture AIR 1983 Del 223

  5. Tulya Gogoi v Association of Architects (1999) 3 Gau LR 179

  6. Premendra Raj Mehta v National Building Construction Corporation Limited W.P. (C) 2106 / 2012

  7. Sudhir Vohra v Registrar of Companies W.P. (C) 934/2012 and C.M. No. 18315/2014

  8. Council of Architecture v Manohar Krishnaji Ranade C.A. Nos 3346-3348 of 2005

  9. Council of Architecture v Indian Institute of Architects C.A. No 12649 of 2017


The author is a law graduate from the University School of Law & Legal Studies, GGS IP University, New Delhi.

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