Architects’ Act 1972, doesn’t allow ‘legal person’ to practice architecture, or in simple words architectural practices are still individual run offices in India. There isn’t a debate that whether architects shall be allowed to form a ‘private limited’ company or operate only as ‘individual firms’? Everybody, seems to be agreeing to the global demand of seemingly bigger firms. Council of Architecture understands the needs and have proposed some amendments to architects’ act 1972.
Now, legal person and natural person.
I floated a question on Facebook asking, “whether it is true that architect’s cannot have a private limited firm?” And too this most of my friends replied ‘No, it isn’t true’. This was because we are seeing many successful private limited architectural firms around us. And it was taken for granted that ‘it is allowed’. Until, Prof Vijay Sohoni, President Council of Architecture himself clarified in following words:
“Presently only natural persons can practice. Pvt. ltd. or corporates are legal persons but not natural persons as per I.T.Act. COA has proposed an amendment to the Architects Act to allow Corporates and multi disciplinary firms to practice.”
He also agreed that these laws are old and need ammendments to meet new challenges in architecture profession and practice:
But these laws are old and a legacy of the British Raj. Incidentally the British changed theirs in early seventies when we were aping them in passing the Architects Act. It gives an unfair advantage to foreign firms while competing with Indian Architects. Thats why COA is fighting to amend the act.
And on asking what a legal person means, he said,
A natural person is legally defined as a living human being. This definition is meant to set a natural person apart from a legal person, which is a group of people acting in a unified, often commercial enterprise but are considered by law to be acting as a single fictional or virtual individual. Legal persons are also known by the terms artificial and juristic persons. Companies, trusts, partnerships and similar entities are considered legal persons. The distinction between natural and legal persons is found in most systems of law.
I think, the question is of accountability and liability here. How much a ‘legal person’ can be accounted for architectural failures(in case) or isn’t it easy to hold one individual and natural person responsible for architectural failures?