July 6, 2024 In Uncategorized



The Hon’ble Mr. Justice C. Harishankar of the Delhi High Court stated “I am breaching the principle of separation of powers” , in a recent judgement of Dobariya Mohit Ramnikal versus Department Of Higher Education, W.P.(C) 4100/2023, vide Order dated 01/07/2024, as the Court interfered in academic policy matters, which ordinarily does not call for judicial interference, on the ground that the decision of the Authority i.e. the Council of Architecture was not in accordance with the Architects Act, 1972.


The Petitioner, Dobariya Mohit Ramnikal obtained his Masters in Architecture, (M. Arch) from the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland, USA.

Upon completion of his M, Arch course, the Petitioner was issued a certificate by the Associate Dean for Development and Faculty Affairs, University of Maryland, conferring upon the Petitioner a professional Degree in Architecture upon successful completion of his course, which was accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board, hereinafter referred to as, NAAB.

The Petitioner returned to India after completion of his M. Arch course and applied to the Council of Architecture (COA) for being enrolled as an Architect. The COA responded back asking the Petitioner if his Degree from the University of Maryland was either included in the Schedule of Qualifications appended to the Architects Act, 1972 or notified under Section 15, the Architects Act (Recognition of architectural qualifications granted by authorities in foreign countries), in which case only the Petitioner is eligible to apply.

The COA informed the Petitioner that he could not be registered as an architect in India, as his M. Arch Degree is not recognized by the COA under Section 15 of the Architects Act. The Petitioner then wrote to the Department of Higher Education (DHE), Ministry of Education, requesting grant of recognition to his M. Arch Degree from University of Maryland. The COA’s remarks were also considered by the DHE.

The DHE then informed the Petitioner that the COA has not recommended grant of recognition to his M. Arch Degree from University of Maryland-School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (USA) stating that the Institution is accredited by NAAB and not by National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) which is the registering authority for Architects in USA. It has also been stated by the Council that the M Arch Course of Maryland University is not comparable with a 5 year B. Arch Degree course of an Indian University.

The Petitioner then received a clarification from the Dean of the University of Maryland that it was the NAAB and not the NCARB, which was the accrediting body in the USA. It was the NAAB which evaluated the architectural programs in the US to ensure that the graduates had the requisite technical and critical thinking skills to succeed in the profession of architecture. The University of Maryland was accredited to the NAAB.

The Petitioner then filed the present Writ Petition before the Delhi High Court seeking grant of recognition to M. Arch Degree from the University of Maryland, USA by the COA.


I) Whether the ground on which the request of the Petitioner for treating the M. Arch. Degree awarded by the University of Maryland as a recognized architectural qualification under the Architects Act has been rejected, is sustainable in law or not.

II) Whether the stand that the M. Arch. Degree of the University of Maryland is not comparable to the B. Arch. Degree awarded in India is, or is not, tenable in law or not.


The Hon’ble High Court said that the Court in academic matters, cannot direct recognition of an institution or a qualification or a degree provided by an institution. Such matters are to be left with the academic bodies and the Court can only interfere, if the decision to recognize or not to recognize or to grant or not to grant are within the statutory mandate.

The Court held that the ground on which the Petitioner’s application for enrolment in the COA is unsustainable in law. The Court further stated that the comparison of the M. Arch course of the University of Maryland with the five-year B.Arch course awarded by the Indian university is unfair. The Court further added that people pursuing education from foreign countries do not lark and sit through rigorous courses of study. Failing to recognize such qualification is fundamentally opposed to the public interest.

The Court was of the opinion that further relegation of the matter to the Central Government under Section 15 (1) of the Act would not serve any purpose and would subserve the cause of justice as the Central Government has no further discretion in the matter.

It is undeniable that a list of “foreign qualifications recognized by the Central Government under Section 15(1) of the Architects Act, 1972” is included in the Schedule that is appended to the law. The Serial Nos. 8(a) and 8(b) of the Schedule, deal with architectural bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral Degrees granted by US-based colleges and universities, as previously mentioned.

The Court determined that a specific qualification is eligible for recognition under Section 15(1) of the Act, as it has done in this instance. By doing so, the Court would not be entrenching itself in the legislative branch because the act of recognizing a foreign qualification is an executive one rather than a legislative one.

Hon’ble Mr. Justice C. Harishankar further added that, to issue the necessary notification in effect, that the Petitioner’s M. Arch Degree from the University of Maryland is recognized under Section 15(1) of the Act and by ordering the Central Government, “I am breaching the principle of separation of powers.”


Thus, the Petitioner’s Degree of M.Arch from the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland, USA was granted recognition, to enable him to seek enrolment in COA, in order to practice as an Architect in India. The Central Government was also directed to issue the necessary notification, for the same, under Section 15(1) of the Architects Act.



The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services





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