AICTE does not have mandate for recognition of Architecture degrees, Supreme Court

AICTE does not have mandate for recognition of Architecture degrees, Supreme Court

Shruti Mahajan

Between the Council of Architecture (CoA) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the mandate of the CoA would prevail when it comes to the grant of approvals and recognition of Architecture course degrees are concerned, the Supreme Court has held.

The judgment rendered by a three-Judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose ruled that the AICTE cannot impose any regulatory measured in relation to Architecture subject in case of a conflict between CoA and AICTE.

The Court was hearing appeals filed against the Bombay High Court Judgment which had quashed the order of the AICTE that had fixed a reduced intake number of students to an Architecture institute. The CoA and the AICTE had, after a joint assessment of the institute reduced the student intake number from 40 to 30.

After two years, the institute filed certain compliance reports which led to CoA restoring the intake number back to 40. However, the AICTE passed an order thereafter, once again bringing the intake number down to 30. This was challenged by the institute before the Bombay High Court.

The High Court quashed the order of the AICTE leading to the current appeal in Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also heard six other appeals raising the identical issue.

In dealing with the question of which body’s mandate would prevail in case of conflict, the Supreme Court examined the object and purpose of the Statutes under which both these bodies were formed. The CoA was formed under the Architects Act, 1972 while the AICTE came into existence under the provisions of the AICTE Act, 1987.

The Court also pointed out that the 1972 Act deals with the registration of Architects and related issues which involved educational courses whereas the 1987 Act encompasses the overall development of technical education which includes Architecture. This is a point which was also highlighted by the High Court which had further said that the Architects Act of 1972 was not impliedly repealed by the enactment of the AICTE Act.

In this regard, the Supreme Court said that the 1972 Act cannot be said to be repealed merely because the term “technical education” under the AICTE Act also includes Architecture. The Court said,

“The principle of implied repeal cannot apply so far as the provisions relating to architecture education is concerned, on the basis of the 1987 Act having become operational. One of the dominant purposes of the 1972 Act is recognition of qualifications on architecture. The registration of an architect is dependent upon acquisition of such recognised qualification. The said Act cannot be held to have been repealed by implication for the sole reason of inclusion of the word “architecture” in the definition of technical education.”

The Court thus said that the definition of “technical education” under Section 2(g) of the AICTE Act, 1987 would have to be given an interpretation that excludes architecture and makes it inapplicable to cases where the AICTE exercises its power to regulate framework for technical education institutes. Thus, the Court held that the AICTE would not have any power to impose regulatory measures and the mandate of the CoA would prevail for recognition of qualifications of Architecture.

“so far as recognition of degrees and diplomas of architecture education is concerned, the 1972 Act shall prevail. AICTE will not be entitled to impose any regulatory measure in connection with the degrees and diplomas in the subject of architecture. Norms and Regulations set by CoA and other specified authorities under the 1972 Act would have to be followed by an institution imparting education for degrees and diplomas in architecture.”

[Read Judgment]

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