Council Of Architecture vs Mr. Mukesh Goyal on 17 March, 2020


Supreme Court of India

Council Of Architecture vs Mr. Mukesh Goyal on 17 March, 2020

Author: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud

Bench: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud, Hemant Gupta

                                                                                       REPORTABLE




                                       IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                          Civil Appeal No 1819 of 2020
                                     (Arising out of SLP(C) No 18752 of 2014)



              Council of Architecture                                             Appellant

                                                      Versus




          Mr Mukesh Goyal & Ors                                                   Respondents


                                                              WITH

                                        Civil Appeal Nos 1820-1822 of 2020
                                 (Arising out of SLP(C) Nos 25524-25526 of 2014)




                                                  JUDGMENT

Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud J.

1
Signature Not Verified The question before this Court is whether Section 37 of the Architects Act
Digitally signed by
CHETAN KUMAR

19721 merely prohibits the use of the title ―Architect‖ by individuals not registered
Date: 2020.03.17
13:05:53 IST
Reason:

1

―Architects Act‖

1
with the Council of Architecture2 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. In other words,

does Section 37 permit individuals not registered with the Council to continue

practicing the profession of architecture in India? As a corollary to this question,

this Court is also called upon to determine whether a government post titled or

styled using the term ―Architect‖ can be held by individuals not registered with the

Council of Architecture.

2 The present appeals arise 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 Authority3 since January

1988 and claims to possess a degree in architecture from the Indian Institute of

Architects. NOIDA is an authority created under Section 3 of the Uttar Pradesh

Industrial Area Development Act 19764 to supervise and manage the

development of various geographical zones of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

3 Exercising its powers under Section 19 of the U.P. Industrial Area

Development Act and with the approval of the state government, NOIDA framed

the Service Regulations of 1981 for the recruitment and promotion of employees

in its various departments. One of the departments under NOIDA‘s purview is the

Department of Planning and Architecture where the first respondent is employed.
2
―Council‖
3
―NOIDA‖
4
―U.P. Industrial Area Development Act‖

2
Regulation 16 of the Service Regulations 1981 sets out the ‗Sources of

Recruitment‘. Under sub-clause (iv) of clause (2) of Regulation 16, NOIDA has

been conferred with the power to modify the sources of recruitment or the

percentage of candidates appointed through promotion and direct recruitment.

Thus, under the Service Regulations 1981, NOIDA has the power to lay down the

conditions and qualifications for promotion from the feeder cadre to various posts

in the Department of Planning and Architecture.

4 NOIDA spelt out the qualifications and conditions required for the

promotion to various posts in the Recruitment and Promotion Policy 20055. The

Department of Planning and Architecture consists of two cadre streams, the

Planning cadre stream and the Architecture cadre stream. The Planning cadre

stream consists of the following posts (in ascending order of seniority): (i)

Planning Assistant; (ii) Associate Town Planner; (iii) Town Planner; and (iv)

Senior Town Planner. The Architecture cadre stream consists of the following

posts (in ascending order of seniority): (i) Architecture Assistant; (ii) Associate

Architect; (iii) Architect; and (iv) Senior Architect. In practice, the two cadres draw

on a common pool of candidates, the only distinction being made when specific

work orders are issued.

5 The Promotion Policy 2005 provided that for the post of Associate Town

Planner, 60 per cent of recruitment would take place by way of promotion, the

eligibility criteria being fifteen years‘ experience as a Planning Assistant.

5
―Promotion Policy 2005‖

3
Similarly, for the post of Associate Architect, 60 per cent of the posts were to be

filled through promotion, the eligibility criteria being fifteen years‘ experience as

an Architecture Assistant. The remaining 40 per cent of posts were to be filled

through direct recruitment, with a degree in Architecture and Town Planning and

a degree in Architecture stipulated as essential qualifications for appointment as

an Associate Town Planner and Associate Architect respectively.

6 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). 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. NOIDA

subsequently sought the opinion of the state government on the same question.

During this period, promotions to the post of Associate Town Planner and

Associate Architect have continued to remain in abeyance, resulting in a situation

where employees who have served for as many as twenty-five years being

denied consideration for promotion.

7 Before the High Court of Allahabad, the first respondent filed three writ

petitions.6 In the writ petitions, the first respondent also impleaded the present

6
W.P. 57577 of 2008; W.P. 65973 of 2008; W.P. 22155 of 2011.

4
appellant, the Council of Architecture which is the regulatory body for the

profession of architecture in India. By the writ petitions, the first respondent

sought two reliefs:

(i) A writ of mandamus directing NOIDA to enforce the provisions of the

Architects Act by ensuring that only persons registered with the Council

of Architecture are appointed to the post of Associate Town Planner /

Associate Architect; and

(ii) The post of Associate Town Planner / Associate Architect be filled

entirely through promotion of the senior most Architect cum Planning

Assistant holding the necessary qualifications.

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.

8 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.

Relying extensively on the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in

5
Mukesh Kumar Manhar v Sri Ram Singh Ahirwar (―Mukesh Kumar Manhar‖)7

the High Court held that Section 37 of the Architects Act does not create a bar on

individuals not registered with the Council from carrying out the duties and

functions of an Architect. The High Court 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.

9 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.

Submissions

10 The Council of Architecture has 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. According to the

7
2006 (1) MPLJ 238

6
Council, such an interpretation defeats the object and purpose of the Architects

Act. It is submitted that:

(i) The object of the Architects Act is to ensure that only qualified

architects are permitted to provide architectural services for the

purposes of construction and building activity in India;

(ii) The Architects Act is a comprehensive legislation which regulates the

qualifications, registration and disciplinary facets of architecture in India

and therefore Section 37 cannot be read only as protecting against the

use of the title ―Architect‖ but it must be read to prohibit unqualified

individuals from practicing architecture;

(iii) Under Section 37 of the Architects Act, only individuals registered with

the appellant Council are permitted to render architectural services in

India;

(iv) The High Court has construed Section 37 narrowly and such an

interpretation risks allowing unqualified individuals from practicing the

profession of supervising buildings and construction; and

(v) In its decision in Mukesh Kumar Manhar the High Court of Madhya

Pradesh directed the state government to cease using the

nomenclature of ―Assistant Architect‖ or ―Architect‖ in regard to posts

where the eligibility criteria did not require appointees to hold a degree

in architecture.

7
11 As the present controversy impacts all persons engaging in the practice of

architecture in India, including thousands of individuals employed in various

government departments holding posts titled ―Associate Architect‖ or ―Architect‖,

this Court considered it fit to issue notice to the Union of India. During the course

of the hearing, Mr K K Venugopal, learned Attorney General of India appeared for

the Union and submitted that:

(i) According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Architects

Act, the legislation aims to protect the title of architects but does not

grant architects an exclusive right over the activities of designing,

supervising and constructing buildings;

(ii) Section 37 of the Architects Act is titled ―Prohibition against the use of

title‖ and prohibits individuals from using the ―title and style of architect‖.

The legal bar created is therefore limited to the use of ―title‖ and does

not prohibit the ―practice‖ of architecture;

(iii) The Architects Act does not contain a prohibition on the practice of

architecture or the designing, supervising or construction of buildings by

individuals not registered with the Council; and

(iv) The definition of ―architect‖ provided by the Architects Act is a person

whose name appears on the register of Architects maintained with the

Council and not individuals engaged in the design, supervision or

construction of buildings in India. Therefore, the Architects Act

regulates individuals registered with the Council and does not control

8
the practice of activities undertaken by individuals falling outside the

regulatory regime applicable to registered Architects.

Scope of the present appeal

12 In the writ petitions before the High Court of Allahabad, the question before

the court was whether the 2005 Promotion Policy adopted by NOIDA permitting

candidates who do not hold a degree in architecture to hold the post of Associate

Architect violated the provisions of the Architects Act. The answer to that

question substantially turned on an interpretation of the Architects Act. Primarily,

the issue is whether the Architects Act prohibits individuals not registered with the

Council from holding of the title of ―architect‖ or prohibits them from practicing the

activities undertaken by architects. This is the question that we are called upon to

answer. If Section 37 of the Architects Act prohibits individuals not registered with

the Council from practicing the activities commonly undertaken by an architect,

the 2005 Promotion Policy will violate Section 37 as it allows unregistered

individuals to undertake the activities of an architect. However, if Section 37 only

prohibits individuals not registered with the Council from holding the title of

―architect‖, then the Promotion Policy 2005 is valid insofar as it permits

unregistered individuals from practicing architecture and only the question of the

nomenclature of the post remains to be decided. It is to this controversy that we

now turn.

9
Decisions of the High Courts

13 Since the adoption of the Architects Act in 1972, there have been several

pronouncements by High Courts on whether Section 37 should be interpreted as

prohibiting individuals not registered with the Council from undertaking the

activities of designing, supervising and constructing buildings in India. In

Municipal Corporation of Delhi v Ram Kumar Bhardwaj8 the respondents

challenged the power of the Delhi Municipal Corporation to stipulate who a

―Licensed Architect‖ was. It was contended by the respondents that the adoption

of the Architects Act represented a comprehensive regulatory framework and the

Delhi Municipal Corporation could no longer impose restrictions on who a

―Licensed Architect‖ was in a manner contrary to the provisions of the enactment.

Justice V S Deshpande (as the learned Chief Justice then was) speaking for a

Division Bench of the High Court of Delhi observed:

―2. … The Architects Act, 1972 sets out the qualification to be
possessed by the persons to be registered as architects
under the said Act. It also prohibits persons who do not have
such registration from describing themselves as architects
and also deals with disciplinary action for misconduct of
architects. It is, therefore, a complete enactment the effect of
which is that a person cannot call himself an architect unless
he is registered under the said Act. Of course, unlike the
Advocates Act, which restricts the right to practice in
courts only to the advocates qualified thereunder, the
Architects Act does not restrict the practise by architects
to persons registered under the said Act. Therefore,
some persons who cannot call themselves architects
may still be free to do the work which is ordinarily done
by architects and they are not dealt with by the
Architects Act. Whether the Corporation can deal with such
persons is not a question which arises before us. Our
consideration is limited to the question whether the
Corporation can regulate the profession and the practice of
architects registered under the Architects Act, 1972 by

8
(1980) 18 DLT 283

10
insisting that the architects practising in Delhi and submitting
plans for construction of buildings for the approval of the
Corporation must possess licences issued by the
Corporation.‖

(Emphasis supplied)

On the question of whether the Delhi Municipal Corporation could regulate

architects already registered with the Council of Architecture, the Division Bench

held:

―The Architects Act, 1972 is a special law dealing with the
qualifications to be possessed by persons for being registered
as architects and restricting the term ―architect‖ or ―registered
architects‖ to such persons only. Since the possession of a
registration certificate under the Architects Act, 1972 is
regarded by Parliament as sufficient qualification for the
practice of architects and since all related questions have
been dealt with in respect of architects by the said Act, it
became unnecessary for the Corporation to do so thereafter.‖

The question before the High Court of Delhi was whether the Delhi Municipal

Corporation could require that architects submitting plans for the construction of

new buildings must possess a license issued by it. While answering this in the

negative, the Division Bench specifically observed that unlike the Advocates Act

19619, the Architects Act did not restrict the practice of architecture to persons

registered under the Architects Act. The High Court observed that even after the

adoption of the Architects Act, there continue to exist individuals who cannot call

themselves architects but are free to carry out the work which is ordinarily done

by architects.

9

―Advocates Act‖

11
14 In Om Prakash Mittal v Council of Architecture10 Sections 35 and 37 of

the Architects Act were challenged as ultra vires Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the

Constitution of India before a single judge of the High Court of Delhi. It was

contended that Section 37 restricted the use of the title of ―architect‖ to a certain

category of qualified persons as distinct from other qualified persons, a distinction

not supported by a rational nexus with the objects of the Architects Act. In

dismissing the constitutional challenge, Justice S B Wad cited the Statement of

Objects and Reasons of the Architects Act. The High Court of Delhi held:

―Article 19(6) empowers State to make law relating to the
professional or technical qualifications necessary for
practising any profession laying down professional
qualifications for the profession of architecture as done by the
Act and prohibiting persons who do not fulfil the said
qualifications from posing themselves as architects is
constitutionally permissible. The restriction, if at all, is a
reasonable restriction. There is no merit in the petitioner’s
contention that there is no nexus with the object of the
Act. The object of the Act, as stated above, is to prevent
unqualified persons calling themselves as architects and
undertaking the construction of buildings which are
uneconomical or unsafe and who are bringing the
profession of architect into disrepute. The provision is
essentially in the interest of the general public and it is
meant for protecting the public from unqualified persons
working as architects. The restriction imposed by Section
37
does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution.

(Emphasis supplied)

In dismissing the constitutional challenge, the Single Judge of the High Court of

Delhi held that one of the objects of the Architects Act was to prevent unqualified

persons ―calling themselves as architects‖ which can result in untrained

individuals being tasked with the critical work of construction. This may lead to

unsafe buildings. Section 37 was enacted to protect citizens from being misled by

10
AIR 1983 Del 223

12
untrained persons and mistakenly entrusting them with the task of construction.

Even though the Single Judge undoubtedly recognised the need for trained and

qualified architects, Section 37 was interpreted as creating a bar on individuals

representing themselves to be qualified architects and not as creating a bar on

untrained individuals practicing the tasks undertaken by architects.

15 The issue of using the nomenclature ―architect‖ in government services

has also arisen before the High Courts. In Tulya Gogoi v Association of

Architects11 an order of the Government of Assam was challenged. The said

order re-named the post of ―Architectural Draftsman P.W.D.‖ as ―Junior

Architect‖. The individuals whose posts were to be renamed had at the time

obtained a diploma certificate in Architectural Assistantship which was not

recognised by either the Central Government or the Council of Architects. The

order was challenged by the Association of Architects, Assam as violating

Section 37 of the Architects Act as it would effectively allow the concerned

individuals to hold the title of ―Architect‖ without holding a qualification recognised

by the Council. In response, it was contended that Section 37 was intended to

prevent private individuals from calling themselves ―Architects‖ and misleading

the general public, but this rationale did not extend to government employees.

Therefore, it was urged that the government was free to designate its posts

howsoever it saw fit. In rejecting this distinction between private architects and

employees of the government, Chief Justice Brijesh Kumar (as the learned judge

11
(1999) 3 Gau LR 179

13
then was) speaking on behalf of a Division Bench of the High Court of Gauhati

held:

―12. It is no doubt that the argument as advanced on behalf of
the appellants is attractive, but it hardly appeals us. It is true,
looking into the sudden spurt in the activity of building,
constructed for factories, industries, housing colonies, office
complexes, etc., it was considered that the profession of
architecture must be regulated. Only those who have proper
education and training and are qualified to work as such may
alone be permitted to work as architects. It is a legislation
especially dealing with architects. Meaning of the word
‗architect‘ has been statutorily provided under clause (a) of
Section 2 where it has been provided that it means one
whose name is entered in the register. … Conduct of an
architect is effectively controlled by Section 30. As a
Government servant may be punished under the
Government rules, but still he may practice the
profession of architecture. But check is placed by
Section 30 under which the name of an architect is even
liable to be removed from the register disentitling him to
practice. Therefore, the argument that being in
Government service an architect is accountable to his
employer according to the rules does not hold good
since mere punishment as a Government employee may
not be enough to debar him from practising as an
architect which is only controlled under Sections 22, 29
and 30 of the Act, 1972.

―15. … Apart from the categories as indicated above, no
other exception to the applicability of Section 37 has
been provided much less on the ground that one is
engaged in private profession or in Government
employment….‖

(Emphasis supplied)

The High Court rejected the argument that the object of Section 37 to prevent

misrepresentation by untrained individuals engaged in architectural activities only

applied to private individuals and not government employees. The High Court

observed that even where the rules of service stipulated by the government

provided for the regulation of architects, the provisions of the Architects Act

14
allowing for the registration and de-registration of architects provided an

overarching regulatory framework to protect the integrity of the architectural

profession. The Act ensures that individuals who did not possess a statutorily

recognised qualification cannot refer to themselves as ―Architects‖. Crucially, the

High Court observed that Section 37 did not carve out an exception for

government employees, therefore the prohibition on the use and the ―title and

style of architect‖ contained in Section 37 applied to both private individuals and

government employees.

16 Both the appellant and the Union of India have relied on the decision of the

Division Bench of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh in Mukesh Kumar Manhar

and it would be pertinent at this juncture to discuss the judgement. The facts of

that case were substantially similar to those before us. The petitioners before the

High Court of Madhya Pradesh were employed as ―Draughtsman‖ and ―Head

Draughtsman‖ and held architectural degrees recognised by the Architects Act.

Their next promotional post was that of ―Assistant Architect – Class II‖. One of the

pre-requisites for appointment as ―Assistant Architect – Class II‖ was the

completion of a degree in architecture. In 1991 the relevant recruitment rules

were modified and the requirement of a degree in architecture was removed as a

pre-requisite for appointment as ―Assistant Architect – Class II‖. The petitioners

contended that the amendment to the recruitment rules violated the provisions of

the Architects Act. According to the petitioners, the Act restricted the practice of

architecture to persons possessing a degree in architecture and registered with

the Council of Architects. In dismissing the petitioners‘ case, Chief Justice R V

15
Raveendran (as the learned judge then was) speaking for a Division Bench of the

High Court compared the provisions of the Architects Act to those of the

Advocates Act and the Indian Medical Council Act 195612. The court held:

―10. There is a significant difference between the Architects
Act
1972 dealing with the profession of Architects and
enactments dealing with Medical and Legal professions.
Section 15(2) of The Indian Medical Council Act, 1956
bars any person other than medical practitioners enrolled
on the State Medical Registers from practicing medicine
or holding the office as „physician‟ or „surgeon‟ in any
Government Institution or other Institution maintained by
any local or other Authority. Similarly, section 29 of the
Advocates Act, 1961, provides that only one class of
persons are entitled to practice the profession of law,
namely, advocates entered in the Roll of any Bar Council
under the provisions of the Advocates Act. Thus there is a
clear bar on persons who are not enrolled with the State
Medical Council or State Bar Council from practising as a
Medical Practitioner or an Advocate.

11. In contrast, the Architects Act 1972 does not prohibit
persons other than those who are registered as
Architects from practising the profession. As noticed
above, Section 37 only prohibits any person other than a
registered architect using the title and style of Architect.

It does not prohibit a person, who is not a registered as
an Architect with the Council of Architecture from
carrying on or discharging any function that can be
carried on by a registered Architect. …‖

(Emphasis supplied)

The High Court noted that both the Indian Medical Council Act and the Advocates

Act expressly restrict the practice of medicine and law to individuals registered

under the two statutes respectively. When examined in juxtaposition to these two

statutes, the choice of the legislature to restrict the ―title and style of architect‖ in

Section 37 of the Architects Act as opposed to the very practice of the profession

is significant. Relying on this distinction, the High Court ultimately held that:

12

―Indian Medical Council Act‖

16
―13. … there can be no objection for a rule providing for non-

architects being promoted to a particular Class II post, which
may involve planning, designing and supervision of Building
constructions. What is prohibited and what is
objectionable in law is calling the persons discharging
such functions related to architecture, as „Architects‟
when they are not registered as Architects. … Even
Engineers, who do not have a degree in Architecture (and
who are not registered Architects) but having
qualifications in Engineering and experience in design
and supervision, may perform the function which are
normally performed by an Architect. But such Engineers
who are not registered Architects and posted to the
Class-I or II posts, dealing with architectural aspects and
designs, cannot be called as „Architects‟ or „Assistant
Architects‟ unless they are registered Architects under
the Architects Act … A draughtsman who is a registered
Architect, when promoted to Class II post, can however be
called as ‗Assistant Architect‘.

14. We recognise the freedom and choice, vested in the
executive, to prescribe the qualifications for various posts. But
the qualifications prescribed, should not violate any statutory
provision, nor suffer from the vice of arbitrariness or mala
fides. Statutory preferences should not be ignored.

Architecture is a specialised technical field dealing with
design and execution of buildings and structures. …‖

(Emphasis supplied)

The High Court held that the Architects Act merely prohibited individuals not

registered with the Council of Architecture from referring to themselves as

―Architects‖ but did not prohibit unregistered persons from carrying out the

practice of architecture. Even engineers, who are not registered with the Council

may perform the functions of designing and supervising construction.

Significantly, the High Court held that it was not open for the government to refer

to such unregistered engineers or other individuals as ―architects‖ unless they are

registered under the Architects Act.

17
17 Similar observations were made by a single judge of the High Court of

Delhi in Premendra Raj Mehta v National Building Construction Corporation

Limited13. The dispute arose by way of a public interest litigation challenging the

award of a consultancy service contract to a foreign firm not registered under the

Architects Act and not having taken permission from the Central Government in

accordance with the proviso to Section 37 of the Act. In response to the public

interest litigation, it was contended that Section 37 only prohibits a person other

than a registered architect from using the title of ―architect‖ and any firm can bid

for tenders provided they have on their rolls an architect registered under the

Architects Act. In dismissing the challenge to the grant of the consultancy service

contract, Justice V K Jain observed that:

―8. A plain reading of Section 37 of the Act which appears
under the heading “Prohibition against the use of title”
would show that though the aforesaid provision bars a
person other than a registered architect or a firm of
architects from using the title and style; it does not
prohibit him from rendering architectural service so long
as he does not use the expression architect and does not
describe his firm, if any, as a firm of architects. Had the
legislative intent been to prevent rendering of architectural
services by any person other than a person registered under
the provision of the Act, Section 37 of the Act would have
been worded altogether differently. For instance, Section 29
of the Advocates Act, 1961 prohibits a person unless he is
enrolled as an advocate from practicing in any Court or before
any authority or persons. …. Section 15(2) of the Medical
Council Act, 1956 also expressly prohibits a person other
than a medical practitioner registered in any State, signing or
authenticating a medical or fitness certificate, giving evidence
as an expert and hold office as Physician or Surgeon or any
other office in the Government or any institution maintained
by a local or other authority. No similar provision is, however
found in the Architects Act. The learned counsel for the
petitioners contended that in my view rightly too that
such an interpretation may result in unqualified persons
providing services such as supervision of construction

13
W.P. (C) 2106 / 2012

18
of buildings and the construction supervised by such
persons may not be safe and economical, but, then, the
remedy lies in the Parliament amending the provision of
the Act so as to prohibit unqualified persons from
rendering architectural services, and not in the Court
taking an interpretation which a plain reading of Section
37
does not suggest. Moreover such an unqualified person,
after coming into force of the Act cannot represent
themselves to be architects though they may continue to
provide services such as supervision of construction of
buildings.‖

(Emphasis supplied)

The Single Judge of the High Court of Delhi observed that a plain reading of

Section 37 leads to the conclusion that Section 37 merely acts as a prohibition on

the use of the title ―Architect‖ and does not prohibit individuals not registered

under the Architects Act from undertaking the practice of architecture.

Importantly, the Single Judge observed that although this may result in certain

unregulated individuals engaging in the practice of architecture: (i) such untrained

individuals cannot refer to themselves as ―architects‖ and are thus unlikely to be

entrusted with tasks requiring specialised architectural knowledge; (ii) the court

cannot construe a statutory provision in a manner contrary to its plain meaning

merely to address a perceived societal harm; and (iii) if the legislature is of the

opinion that the risk of untrained individuals who cannot refer to themselves as

―architects‖ engaging in the business of designing and supervising construction is

real, it can always amend Section 37 to prohibit the practice of such activities by

unregistered individuals as the legislature has done in the cases of the Advocates

Act and the Indian Medical Council Act.

19
18 In Sudhir Vohra v Registrar of Companies14 three writ petitions were

filed before a single judge of the Delhi High Court. The first writ petition sought a

mandamus directing the Registrar of Companies and Ministry of Corporate Affairs

to prohibit the registration of any company or limited liability partnership which

stated that it provided architectural services. The second writ petition sought a

direction cancelling the permission granted to an architecture firm from Singapore

to set up a wholly owned subsidiary in India. The third writ petition sought the

quashing of a Ministry of Corporate Affairs‘ circular which stipulated that if a

company or limited liability partnership had as one of its stated objectives the

providing of architectural services, such an entity could not be incorporated

without a no-objection certificate from the Council of Architecture. Justice Rekha

Palli summarised the issues raised by the three writ petitions:

―6. Thus, what emerges is that the first two writ petitions seek

(i) a direction that only architects registered under the Act can
provide architectural services; and (ii) no company/LLP can
use the title and style of ‗architect‘ or its derivatives.

7. The third writ petition essentially seeks directions to the
contrary. The main thrust of the third writ petition is that the
Act only restricts the use of the title and style of ‗architect‘,
and it neither precludes companies/LLPs from rendering
architectural services nor prevents them from mentioning the
same as one of their objects in their MOA.‖

In answering the questions raised by the writ petitions, the High Court of Delhi

was essentially asked to consider whether the Architects Act precludes

unregistered architects (including legal entities) from providing architectural

services, or alternatively whether the Act merely prohibits unregistered architects

14
W.P. (C) 934/2012 and C.M. No. 18315/2014

20
and entities from using the ―title and style of architect‖. After examining the

provisions of the Architects Act, the Single Judge held:

―40. On a careful examination of the aforesaid provisions of
the Advocates Act and CA Act viz-a-viz the provisions of the
Architects Act, it is apparent that the latter does not contain
any prohibitory provisions similar to the ones in the former
two. The Architects Act neither prescribes that only
registered architects can provide architectural services,
nor contains any clause prohibiting companies and LLPs
from providing architectural services. In fact, what
emerges from the entire scheme of the Architects Act is
that it neither defines as to who can provide architectural
services nor puts any fetters on persons who wish to
provide architectural services. It merely defines an
architect to mean a person whose name is entered in the
register maintained by the COA and lays down the
mandatory qualifications for an entry in the said register.
On the other hand, the Advocates Act and CA Act include
specific provisions laying down as to who can practice as an
advocate or accountant.

41. Thus, the Act, while clearly prescribing that unregistered
persons, including juristic entities, cannot describe or style
themselves as architects, does not preclude any one from
providing architectural services. Merely because the Act
includes a specific provision prescribing that only a
registered architect can use the title of an „architect‟ or
style himself/herself as an „architect‟, it cannot be
concluded that the Act in any manner envisages that
architectural services can be rendered only by those to
whom the Act applies.‖

(Emphasis supplied)

The Single Judge concluded that the scheme of the Architects Act does not

define a set of individuals who can provide architectural services. Merely because

the statute stipulates that nobody other than individuals who are registered with

the Council of Architects can use the title of ―Architect‖ cannot mean that the Act

restricts the practice of architecture as a whole to those registered with the

Council.

21
Controversy at the Supreme Court

19 During the course of the present proceedings, the Learned Attorney

General has placed before us a compilation of relevant material including an

order dated 14 February 2017 of a two-judge bench of this Court in Council of

Architecture v Manohar Krishnaji Ranade15 (―Manohar Ranade‖). We have

extracted the relevant portion of the order below:

―While we find no reason to interfere with the impugned
judgement and order dated 29th November, 2004 passed by
the Bombay High Court in Writ Petition No. 1830 of 1988 and
connected matters, we are of the view that the High Court
was in error in rejecting the contention of the appellant that
practice under the Architects Act, 1972 is not restricted only
to the architects. It is not correct to say that any one can
practice as an architect even if he is not registered under the
Architects Act, 1972.‖

Placing reliance on this order, the appellant contended that the question of

whether Section 37 prohibits the practice of architecture by unregistered

individuals is no longer res integra. It was urged that this Court has already held

that the practice of architecture is limited to architects registered under the

Architects Act. The order arising out of Manohar Ranade has been followed by a

three-judge bench of this Court in an order dated 11 September 2017 in Council

of Architecture v Indian Institute of Architects.16 The order of the three-judge

bench states that:

―Having heard learned counsel for the parties and keeping in
view the order dated 14th February, 2017, passed in Civil
Appeal Nos. 3346-3348 of 2005, we dispose of the present
appeal in similar terms. To have clarity, we reproduce the
relevant passage as under: –

15

C.A. Nos 3346-3348 of 2005
16
C.A. No 12649 of 2017

22
―While we find no reason to interfere with the impugned
judgement and order dated 29th November, 2004 passed
by the Bombay High Court in Writ Petition No. 1830 of
1988 and connected matters, we are of the view that the
High Court was in error in rejecting the contention of the
appellant that practice under the Architects Act, 1972 is
not restricted only to the architects. It is not correct to say
that any one can practice as an architect even if he is not
registered under the Architects Act, 1972.‖

The appeal is disposed of in the above terms…‖

20 The controversy in Manohar Ranade concerned whether the Municipal

Corporation could issue licenses to individuals not registered under the Architects

Act for the completion of certain tasks that are otherwise undertaken by

architects. In answering this question, Justice A P Shah (sitting as a judge of the

High Court of Bombay) and Justice Dharmadhikari stated:

―7. The next issue is whether the engineers or surveyors
possessing necessary qualifications can discharge functions
which are also discharged by an architect under the
Architects Act, 1972?

,,,

8. In the above circumstances we are not inclined to accept
the case of the petitioners that the Architects Act
restricts practice of architecture to persons registered
under the said Act. Therefore qualified engineers who
cannot themselves call on Architects may still be free to
do the work which is ordinarily done by the Architects
and it would be open for the Corporations to regulate
licensing in favour of such qualified engineers.‖

(Emphasis supplied)

The High Court of Bombay rejected the contention that the practice of

architecture is restricted to registered architects under the Architects Act. The

High Court of Bombay held that the practice of architecture is not restricted to

23
architects registered under the Architects Act, and even qualified engineers are

free to carry out the work ordinarily done by architects.

21 The order of this Court dated 14 February 2017 states that ―the High Court

was in error in rejecting the contention of the appellant that practice under the

Architects Act, 1972 is not restricted only to the architects.‖ The appellant was

the Council of Architecture. The order is based on the premise that the contention

of the Council of Architecture before the High Court of Bombay was that the

―practice under the Architects Act, 1972 is not restricted only to architects.‖ The

order stated that the High Court was wrong in rejecting this contention. Therefore,

the order of this Court dated 14 February 2017 clearly sought to lay down the

proposition that the ―practice under the Architects Act, 1972 is not restricted only

to architects.‖ Having laid down this proposition, it would appear that the use of

the word ―not‖ in the next line is inadvertent. In the previous sentence the court

expounded the position that the practice of architecture cannot be restricted to

registered architects under the Architects Act. Hence, it would be an incorrect

interpretation of the order to hold that in the very next line, the court would have

laid down a contrary proposition. Therefore, the effect of the order as a whole is

to lay down the principle that individuals can practice as architects even if they

are not registered under the Architects Act. The subsequent order of this Court

dated 11 September 2017 which quotes and follows the earlier order should also

be read in this light. Therefore, the two orders of this Court do not further the

case urged by the appellant but support the position set out by the Union of India,

succinctly advanced in the submissions of the learned Attorney General.

24
Regulatory Scheme of the Architects Act

22 Before embarking on our analysis of whether the Architects Act prohibits

the practice of architecture by individuals not registered with the Council of

Architects, it is pertinent to examine the scheme of the Architects Act in its

entirety. The Architects Act is a special legislation creating an exhaustive

regulatory regime applicable to the profession of architecture. Clause (a) of

Section 2 of the Architects Act defines an architect as follows:

―(a) ―architect‖ means a person whose name is for the time
being entered in the register;‖

The ―register‖ is further defined as:

―(e) ―register‖ means the register of architects maintained
under section 23;‖

Section 3 of the Architects Act brings into existence the Council of Architecture.

Under Section 14 of the Act, only qualifications included in the Schedule to the

Act or notified under Section 15 of the Act shall be recognised as valid

qualifications for the purposes of enrolling in the register under the Architects Act.

Clause (2) of Section 14 permits any authority in India which grants architectural

qualifications not already included in the Schedule of the Act to apply to the

Central Government to have such qualification recognised as a valid architectural

qualification for the purposes of registration under the Architects Act. Section 17

of the Architects Act states that:

―17. Effect of recognition.— Notwithstanding anything
contained in any other law, but subject to the provisions of
this Act, any recognised qualification shall be a sufficient
qualification for enrolment in the register.‖

25
The import of Sections 14, 15 and 17 is that if an individual wishes to be a

registered architect under the Architects Act, they must receive an educational

qualification that is recognised as a valid qualification by virtue of its inclusion in

the Schedule to the Architects Act or a notification under Section 15. The

Schedule to the Architects Act contains a list of qualifications that are recognised

in law as sufficient to warrant the holder of the qualification being enrolled as a

registered architect. Thus, by creating a system of statutorily recognised

educational qualifications, the Architects Act regulates those individuals who are

eligible to be registered architects under the Act.

23 Section 23 of the Architects Act provides that:

―23. Preparation and maintenance of register.—(1) The
Central Government shall, as soon as may be, cause to be
prepared in the manner hereinafter provided a register of
architects for India.

(2) The Council shall upon its constitution assume the duty of
maintaining the register in accordance with the provisions of
this Act.

(3) The register shall include the following particulars,
namely:—

(a) the full name with date of birth, nationality and
residential address of the architect;

(b) his qualification for registration, and the date on which
he obtained that qualification and the authority which
conferred it;

(c) the date of his first admission to the register;

(d) his professional address; and

(e) such further particulars as may be prescribed by rules.‖

26
Section 23 provides for the maintenance of a register of architects in India. As the

term ―architect‖ itself is defined to mean an individual registered under the

Architects Act, the effect of registration of an individual under the Act is firstly to

maintain a list of individuals who have a statutorily recognised educational

qualification in the field of architecture and secondly to bring such individuals

within the regulatory regime of the Architects Act. Section 29 sets out the

procedure for the removal of individuals from the register, including on the ground

of such individuals having misrepresented material facts at the time of

registration, being undischarged insolvents, or having been convicted of offences

involving moral turpitude. Section 30 provides the procedure for inquiries into

misconduct by architects and Section 31 provides for the surrender of certificates

by registered architects. Section 35 of the Architects Act stipulates that:

―35. Effect of registration.—(1) Any reference in any law for
the time being in force to an architect shall be deemed to be a
reference to an architect registered under this Act.

(2) After the expiry of two years from the date appointed
under sub-section (2) of section 24, a person who is
registered in the register shall get preference for appointment
as an architect under the Central or State Government or in
any other local body or institution which is supported or aided
from the public or local funds or in any institution recognised
by the Central or State Government.‖

The consequence of Section 35 is that, where a statute refers to an ―architect‖

such reference shall be deemed to mean a registered architect under the

Architects Act. Clause (2) of Section 35 creates a statutory preference in favour

of registered architects with respect to the appointment of candidates by the

Central or state governments or local bodies or institutions which receive state

aid.

27
24 Lastly, we may refer to the provision at the heart of the present

controversy, Section 37 of the Architects Act which states:

―37. Prohibition against use of title.—(1) After the expiry of
one year from the date appointed under sub-section (2) of
section 24, no person other than a registered architect, or
a firm of architects shall use the title and style of
architect:

Provided that the provisions of this section shall not apply
to—

(a) practice of the profession of an architect by a person
designated as a ―landscape architect‖ or ―naval architect‖;

(b) a person who, carrying on the profession of an
architect in any country outside India, undertakes the
function as a consultant or designer in India for a specific
project with the prior permission of the Central
Government.

Explanation.—For the purposes of clause (a),—

(i) ―landscape architect‖ means a person who deals with
the design of open spaces relating to plants, trees and
landscape;

(ii) ―naval architect‖ means an architect who deals with
design and construction of ships.‖

(Emphasis supplied)

Clause (2) of Section 37 states that any person who contravenes the prohibition

created in clause (1) of Section 37 shall be punishable on first conviction with a

fine that may extend to five hundred rupees and on subsequent convictions with

imprisonment which may extend up to six months or a fine not exceeding one

thousand rupees or both.

28
Questions before this Court

25 The present case raises two questions that this Court must answer:

(i) Question 1: Does Section 37 of the Architects Act prohibit individuals

not registered as architects under the Architects Act from practicing the

activities undertaken by architects, including the design, supervision

and construction of buildings; and

(ii) Question 2: Whether a post titled ―Architect‖, ―Associate architect‖ or

any other similar title using the term or style of ―Architect‖ can be held

by a person not registered as an architect under the Architects Act.

Question 1

26 In answering the first question we must begin with the text of Section 37.

The provision 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. For example, clause (2) of Section 15 of the Indian Medical Council

Act states:

29
―(2) Save as provided in section 25, no person other than a
medical practitioner enrolled on a State Medical Register,—

(a) shall hold office as physician or surgeon or any other
office (by whatever designation called) in Government or in
any institution maintained by a local or other authority.

(b) shall practice medicine in any State; …‖

(Emphasis supplied)

In setting out the legal bar applicable to individuals not registered on the State

Medical Register, the Indian Medical Council Act clearly uses the term ―practice‖

as distinct from ―hold office‖ or ―style and title‖. Similarly, Section 29 of the

Advocates Act provides that:

―29. Advocates to be the only recognised class of
persons entitled to practise law.―Subject to the provisions
of this Act and any rules made thereunder, there shall, as
from the appointed day, be only one class of persons entitled
to practice the profession of law, namely, advocates‖

(Emphasis supplied)

In making a distinction between individuals registered under the statute and those

not registered, the Advocates Act clearly stipulates that unregistered individuals

cannot ―practice‖ the profession of law. This stands in stark contrast to the text of

the Architects Act which merely states that unregistered individuals cannot ―use

the title and style of architect‖. Therefore, a plain reading of Section 37 clearly

supports the proposition that the Architects Act prohibits individuals not registered

with the Council of Architecture from using the title and style of ―Architect‖ and

does not prohibit unregistered individuals from practicing the activities undertaken

by architects such as the design, supervision and construction of buildings.

30

27 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. These submissions are ultimately premised on the

argument that even if a plain reading of Section 37 does not support the

argument of a prohibition on ―practice‖ this Court must nonetheless read the

provision to include a prohibition on practice in order to avoid defeating the object

and purpose of the Architects Act.

28 It is well settled that the first and best method of determining the intention

of the legislature is the very words chosen by the legislature to have the force of

law. In other words, the intention of the legislature is best evidenced by the text of

the statute itself. However, 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. Where it is contended that a particular interpretation would lead to

defeating the very object of a legislation, such an interpretative outcome would

clearly be absurd or unreasonable. To determine whether the interpretation

arrived at on a plain reading of the provision truly defeats the object of the statute

31
as a whole, we may briefly delve into the legislative history of the Architects Act.

To answer the question whether reading Section 37 as a prohibition merely on

the use of the title and style of ―Architect‖ by unregistered individuals would in

truth defeat the object and purpose of the Architects Act this Court may examine

the reasons behind the enactment as a whole.

29 The ―Statement of Objects and Reasons‖ given by the legislature in

passing the Architects Act have been extracted below:

―Since independence and more particularly with the
implementation of the Five-Year Plans, the building
construction activity in our country has expanded almost on a
phenomenal scale. A large variety of buildings, many of
extreme complexity and magnitude like multi-storeyed office
buildings, factory buildings, residential houses, are being
constructed each year. With this increase in the building
activity, many unqualified persons calling themselves as
Architects are undertaking the construction of buildings
which are uneconomical and quite frequently are unsafe,
thus bringing into disrepute the profession of architects.
Various organisations, including the Indian Institute of
Architects, have repeatedly emphasised the need for
statutory regulation to protect the general public from
unqualified persons working as architects. With the passing
of this legislation, it will be unlawful for any person to
designate himself as „architect‟ unless he has the
requisite qualifications and experience and is registered
under the Act.

3. The legislation protects the title “architects” but does
not make the design, supervision and construction of
buildings as an exclusive responsibility of architects.

Other professions like engineers will be free to engage
themselves in their normal vocation in respect of
building construction work provided that they do not
style themselves as architects.‖

(Emphasis supplied)

32
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. This is done by

Sections 14, 15 and 17 of the Act. Next, the legislature created two classes of

individuals: the first class consisted of registered architects satisfying these

minimum qualifications and a second class of unregistered individuals who did

not satisfy these minimum qualifications. This is the effect of Sections 2(a), 17, 23

and 35 of the Architects Act. Crucially, 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. Thus, the legislature

limited the regulatory regime created by the Architects Act to the first class of

individuals. 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 Statement of Objects and

Reasons makes 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. Further, it is expressly stated that the

legislation protects the ―title‖ of architect but does not grant registered architects

33
an exclusive right to undertake the design, supervision and construction of

buildings. Other cognate professions or unregistered individuals may continue to

carry out these activities provided that they do not refer to themselves as

―Architects‖.

30 It is evident that the legislature did not intend to create a prohibition on the

practice of architecture and associated activities by unregistered individuals. As

opposed to the case of physicians or surgeons under the Indian Medical Council

Act or advocates under the Advocates Act, the legislature consciously chose to

employ a less stringent measure in the case of architects, merely prohibiting

unregistered individuals from using the ―title and style‖ of architect. It is not for

this Court to delve into why the legislature made this choice. However, during the

course of these proceedings a cogent and pragmatic reason for this choice has

been placed before this Court, by the learned Attorney General of India and by

way of the erudite opinion of Chief Justice Raveendran in the decision in

Mukhesh Kumar Manhar to which we may briefly advert.

31 The profession of architecture involves a wide range of activities including

inter alia:

(i) Taking instructions from clients and preparing designs;

     (ii)       Site evaluation and analysis;

     (iii)      Site design and development;

     (iv)       Structural design;


                                                34
   (v)      Design of sanitary, plumbing, sewage, drainage, and water supply

            structures;

   (vi)     Design and structural integration of electrical and communications

            systems;

   (vii)    Incorporation   of   heating,   air-conditioning,   ventilation   and   other

mechanical systems including fire detection and prevention systems;

and

(viii) Periodic inspection and evaluation of construction work.

These activities are undertaken by architects but are also carried out by

architects in concert with a range of other actors including draughtspersons,

builders, engineers, and designers. If the legislature were to impose an absolute

prohibition against unregistered individuals from ‗practicing architecture‘ there

would be considerable confusion as to what activities formed the practice of

architecture and what did not. It may have resulted in a host of other legitimate

professionals being barred from engaging in the design, supervision and

construction of buildings merely because they were not registered under the

Architects Act. Further, as the learned Attorney General of India brought to our

attention, these varied professions form essential cogs in the overall machinery of

construction in India and the design, supervision and construction of new

structures cannot be done by architects alone. It would be unreasonable from a

regulatory perspective to ask all professions touching upon the construction of

new structures to obtain a degree in architecture.

35
32 Architecture undoubtedly constitutes a highly specialised profession

requiring the possession of minimum educational qualifications. However,

architects are by and large engaged by means of a contract for services. In other

words, 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. It is in this manner that the legislature protects the

common person from untrained individuals.

33 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.

Question 2

34 The second question before this Court is whether a post titled ―Architect‖,

―Associate architect‖ or any other similar title using the term or style of ―Architect‖

can be held by a person not registered as an architect under the Architects Act.

On this question, the High Court of Allahabad held that the ―mere nomenclature‖

of a particular post will not violate the prohibition on the use of ―title and style‖ of

architect under Section 37. In other words, even an individual not registered as

an architect under the Architects Act can hold a post titled ―Architect‖ or

36
―Associate Architect‖ because the name of the post amounted to ―mere

nomenclature‖.

35 While we have 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. Section 37 prohibits

unregistered individuals from designating themselves or referring to themselves

as ―architects‖. The consequence of this regulatory regime is that when an

individual is called an ―Architect‖ a reasonable person would assume that they

are a registered architect under the Architects Act and as a consequence

possess the requisite educational qualifications and specialised knowledge

associated with architects.

36 If an individual is appointed to a post titled ―Associate Architect‖, ―Architect‖

or ―Senior Architect‖, they undoubtedly refer to themselves and are referred to by

others as ―Architects‖. Holding a post using the term ―Architect‖ has the real-world

consequence of being referred to as an architect. This is not a matter of mere

nomenclature. As noted above, architecture is a specialised field of study.

Crucially, the scheme of the Architects Act provides a direct nexus between the

minimum educational qualifications required to be obtained, registration as an

37
architect under the Act and the prohibition against the use of the title of

―Architect‖ by those not registered under the Act. If a government post is titled

―Architect‖ or ―Associate Architect‖, such a person certainly uses the title and

style of ―architect‖ and consequently there is a reasonable assumption that such

a person is registered under the Architects Act and holds a degree in architecture

recognised by the Act. This assumption finds statutory backing in Section 35 of

the Architects Act which provides that any reference to an architect in any other

law shall be deemed to mean an architect registered under the Architects Act. To

promote an individual who does not possess a degree in architecture recognised

by the Act to a post titled ―Architect‖, ―Associate Architect‖ or of a similar style

using the title or style of ―architect‖ would effectively violate the prohibition on the

use of title contained in Section 37 of the Architects Act.

37 In the present case, we recognise the power of NOIDA to provide and

modify the minimum eligibility criteria for promotion of candidates to the posts of

Associate Town Planner and Associate Architect. We further recognise that the

authority has significant discretion in how it chooses to title the various posts

under its supervision. However, to permit NOIDA to continue to title a post that

includes individuals who are not registered architects under the Architects Act as

―Associate Architect‖ would result in a violation of Section 37 of the Architects

Act. In the case of Tulya Gogoi the High Court of Gauhati expressly held that the

prohibition on the use of title and style of architect contained in Section 37 of the

Architects Act applies to both private individuals and government employees. The

reasoning of the High Court on this issue commends itself for our acceptance.

38
The text of Section 37 makes no distinction between government employees and

private individuals.

38 The U.P. Industrial Area Development Act provides NOIDA with the power

to make rules for the management of its internal affairs. In exercise of this power,

NOIDA formulated the Service Regulations of 1981. Rule 16 of the Service

Regulations sets out the ‗Sources of Recruitment‘ for posts under NOIDA‘s

authority. By clause (iv) of Rule 16 NOIDA has the power to modify the sources

of recruitment for posts under its supervision. It is in exercise of this power that

NOIDA formulated the Promotion Policy of 2005 which sets out the sources and

qualifications for recruitment in its various departments. It is well established that

delegated legislation is susceptible to invalidity on the grounds of being ultra vires

its parent legislation but also ultra vires other primary legislation. Where the

provisions of a primary legislation (the Architects Act) are contradictory to the

provisions of a delegated legislation (the Promotion Policy 2005), the provisions

of the primary legislation must prevail. This principle is well established and has

received articulation by this Court on several occasions. In Indian Express

Newspapers v Union of India17 Justice Venkataramiah speaking for a three-

judge Bench of this Court stated:

―75. A piece of subordinate legislation does not carry the
same degree of immunity which is enjoyed by a statute
passed by a competent Legislature. Subordinate legislation
may be questioned on any of the grounds on which plenary
legislation is questioned. In addition, it may also be
questioned on the ground that it does not conform to the
statute under which it is made. It may further be questioned
on the ground that it is contrary to some other statute.

17

(1985) 1 SCC 641

39
This is because subordinate legislation must yield to
plenary legislation. It may also be question on the ground
that it is unreasonable, unreasonable not in the sense of not
being reasonable, but in the sense that it is manifestly
arbitrary. …‖

(Emphasis supplied)

The distinction made by the Allahabad High Court, that the Promotion Policy

2005 was passed under a state legislation, namely the U.P. Industrial Area

Development Act, and thus did not need to comport with the terms of the

Architects Act as a central legislation is incorrect.

39 For the reasons stated above, in response to the first question we affirm

the decision of the High Court of Allahabad 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. In

response to the second question we disapprove of the view of the High Court of

Allahabad and hold 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.

40
40 The appeals are partly allowed in the above terms. There shall be no order

as to costs.

Pending application(s), if any, shall stand disposed of.

………………………….……………………..J.

[Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud]

…..…..…….………..……………….………..J.

[Ajay Rastogi]
New Delhi;

March 17, 2020.

41



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