The bench of Judges Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi of the Supreme Court of India held that Section 37 of the Architects Act 1972 does not prohibit individuals not registered under the Architects Act from undertaking the practice of architecture and its cognate activities.
The Court was hearing an appeal against the Allahabad High Court verdict where it was held that Section 37 only prohibits unregistered individuals from using the title “architect”. As a necessary adjunct of this reasoning, the High Court held that the Promotion Policy 2005, which allowed for individuals not holding a degree in architecture being appointed to the Class II post of Associate Architect, did not contravene Section 37 of the Architects Act in so far as they would be carrying out the activities of an architect. It said, “Mere nomenclature of the particular post will not in any way be said to violate the provisions of the Architects Act 1971.” Then the matter reached the Supreme Court of India.
- SC noticed that, where a plain reading of the text of the statute leads to an absurd or unreasonable meaning, the text of the statute must be construed in light of the object and purpose with which the legislature enacted the statute as a whole.
- The Court explained that the legislature chose to define an “architect” as an individual registered under the Architects Act and not as an individual practicing architecture or any cognate activities.
- Architecture undoubtedly constitutes a highly specialised profession requiring the possession of minimum educational qualifications.
- Architects provide a set of specialised services towards the larger goal of construction.
- Architects are not embarking on construction independently of other actors.
- 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.
The bench of SC while holding the decision stated that, “The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Architects Act makes it evident that the legislature was undoubtedly concerned with the risk of unqualified persons undertaking the construction of buildings leading to costly and dangerous buildings. In guarding against this risk, the legislature first set out a minimum standard of statutorily recognised qualifications to be met before an individual is designated as an architect under the Architects Act.”
The Court also added that, “In protecting the public from the risk of the second class, untrained individuals, the legislature had two options: first it could bar this second class of individuals from engaging in the profession altogether (as it had done with physicians and advocates); or alternatively it could prevent this second class of individuals from calling themselves “Architects”.
The Court, hence, held that the Statement of Objects and Reasons make it clear that the legislature chose the second option and in fact went to great lengths to clarify that choice. The legislature stated that with the passing of the legislation, it shall be unlawful for an unregistered individual to designate himself as an “architect”.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
- Case of Council of Architecture Appellant vs. Mr Mukesh Goyal & Ors, Civil Appeal No 1819 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP(C) No 18752 of 2014), decided by the Supreme Court of India on March 17, 2020.