NEED FOR SELF-REGULATION AUTHORITY FOR ENGINEERS IN INDIA

NEED FOR SELF-REGULATION AUTHORITY FOR ENGINEERS IN INDIA

1.0 Introduction

By self-regulatory authority of a profession is implied a select body of its members which is responsible for the growth and development of the profession in keeping with its responsibility towards the society and the State. The functions of the body inter alia are (i) issues of professional education, development of curriculum, setting up of teaching standards, institutional infrastructures, recognition of degrees, etc., (ii) matters concerned with licensing and ethical conduct of the practitioners. Currently, there are seven major self-regulating professional bodies operating in India.

  1. Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) – formed under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949.

  2. Medical Council of India (MCI) – formed under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.

  3. Institute of Cost & Works Accountants of India (ICWAI) – formed under the Cost & Works Accountants Act, 1959.

  4. Bar Council of India (BCI)-formed under Advocates Act, 1961.

  5. Press Council of India (PCI) – formed under the Press Council Act, 1965.

  6. Council of Architecture (CoA) – formed under the Architects Act, 1972, and the

  7. Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) – formed under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980.

Then, there are organizations like the Institution of Engineers (India) which have been formed purely by voluntary action by respective members of the profession and they don’t have any statutory authority although they have a Royal Charter.

One of the major tasks of Self-Regulatory Authorities is to manage and regulate professional education. The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) which was constituted in 2005 with a mandate to prepare a blueprint for transforming the country into a knowledge society has gone into issues of higher education in the country (e.g., management, law, and medicine). One of its major recommendations was that Professional Education should be taken away from the domain of the existing Regulatory Bodies like UGC and AICTE and recommended a single independent regulatory authority for higher education but at present, the HRD Ministry has put the idea on hold [1].

2.0 Brief Discussion

2.1 Indian Development-

Several years ago in 1970, the Barve Committee, which was set up by the Planning Commission, had identified the need to fulfill two essential requirements – statutory recognition of the profession of engineering through consulting and registration of engineers for proper growth and development of the engineering profession in the country. But even after more than 44 years of setting up of the Barve Committee, the plight of engineers remains the same. The first draft of the “Engineers Bill” was made in 1985 by the Association of Consulting Engineers (India). However, it was only in 1990 that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was identified as the nodal Ministry for this bill. In 1991 the Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Raj Mangal Pande directed his Ministry to process the draft, Bill. But it got strangled in PIL with the court judgment directing the Engineers to form a consensus.

A confederation of all the Engineering Associations & Societies representing different disciplines was formed and was called “Engineering Council of India” (ECI)under the patronage of the then Vice-Chairman of the Planning Commission, Shri K C Pant. ECI prepared a second draft of the Engineers bill and presented it to MHRD for its review, approval, and for processing it further in 2004.MHRD instead of processing the draft bill presented by ECI, decided to give the responsibility of regulation of the engineering profession to the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).

The Engineering Consultants fought this move of MHRD in the court and won it. The court decreed that AICTE had no mandate to regulate the Profession of Engineering and that a separate body had to be created for that purpose. MHRD set up a Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. D.P. Aggarwal, a member of the Union Public Service Commission. The Committee had representatives of ECI, CEAI, IE(I) and AICTE. After a number of meetings, this committee produced the third draft of the Engineers Bill in 2005. In 2007, MHRD also appointed Sh. R.V. Shahi, Retd. Secretary to Government of India, Ministry of Power to head another committee, which also had the representation of ECI, CEAI, IE(I) etc. and prepared a fourth draft of the Engineers Bill. The fourth draft was finalized in 2008 and presented to MHRD. This was circulated by MHRD to all the other Ministries and their comments obtained. On the basis of their comments the fourth draft was modified, finalized and put in the pipe line for presentation to the Parliament and subsequent enactment but somewhere down the line it a view was presented that the Royal Charter which was given to the Institution of Engineers (India) was adequate. A statement was made on the floor of the Parliament that the Engineers Bill was not required and the matter was closed. After clarifying the [4].

2.2 Foreign Development –

Regulation and licensure in engineering[3] is established by various jurisdictions of the world to encourage public welfare, safety, well-being and other interests of the general public and to define the licensure process through which an engineer becomes authorized to practice engineering and/ or provide engineering professional services to the public. As with many other professions, the professional status and the actual practice of professional engineering is legally defined and protected by law in some jurisdictions.

In the United States, registration or licensure of Professional Engineers and Engineering Practice is governed by the individual states. The Engineering Council is the UK regulatory body for its engineering profession. The practice of engineering in Canada is highly regulated under a system of licensing administered by a self-regulated engineering association in each province. These bodies were established by Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial governments through legislation [4]. In Canada the designation “Professional Engineer” can only be used by licensed engineers and the practice of engineering is protected in law and strictly enforced in all provinces. Thus, it is illegal to practice engineering or use the title “Professional Engineer” or “Engineer”, without a license. In Iran, registration or licensure of professional engineers and engineering practice is governed by the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (Iran).In Pakistan, engineering education and profession is regulated by the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) via PEC Act 1976. PEC is a federal government organization. Any person with an engineering degree (BE/ BS/ BSc Engineering) from PEC accredited universities/ institutes is legally allowed to register with the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).In Sri Lanka, the title “Engineer” is not regulated. However, as per the Engineering Council Act No 4 of 2017, all engineering practitioners in Sri Lanka need to be registered with the Engineering Council to practice. Failing to do to so would result in an offence and can be convicted by a summary trial before a Magistrate. The European Engineer (Eur Ing, EUR ING) is an international professional qualification for engineers used in many European countries. The title is granted after successful application to a national member of the European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI), which includes representation from many European countries, including most of the European Union. In Australia, licensing currently exists at the State level only in Queensland, but this model appears likely to be adopted by other states.

Engineers play a crucial role in community safety as they design the systems that ensure that the society runs smoothly with constructed dwellings, clean water supply, wastewater treatment and disposal, solid waste management, uninterrupted supply of electricity at the correct voltage, means of transport and its infrastructure, to mention a few.

Being an Engineer implies a lifetime of dedication, after years of learning and then gaining experience day in and day out. However, the current environment fails to recognize the time and tireless effort necessary for becoming a professional engineer.

Legislation is necessary to provide self-regulation for Engineering and Valuation professionals and create a body for monitoring that they discharge their responsibility and are accountable through an effective disciplinary mechanism.

In the case of Valuers, the introduction of the Companies Act, 2013, has introduced the concept of ‘Registered Valuer‘ to cover all valuation of assets. The net worth of a firm or its liabilities under the Act is to be done by a Registered Valuer which almost covers the 15 areas of the Act. However, unlike the Wealth Tax Act, 1957 it says that a basic Engineering degree like B.E is not compulsory to be a real estate valuer.

The question that arises is as to how non-technical persons can judge the type of construction and rates of construction. Objectively, it is really an injustice to the profession and is very unfair for persons with a technical background.

3.0 Conclusions

Such anomalies happen only for engineers, they never happen for accountants, doctors, advocates, architects. The question is WHY? There must be an Engineers Act too for regulating all matters related to engineering. Mr. T M Gunaraja, President, the Institution of Engineers India (IEI) while inaugurating the Nagaland State Chapter in Kohima in February 2019, informed that the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways was taking the initiative to place the Engineers Bill in Parliament. He was. He stated that the “Engineering profession is not regulated in the country whereas the regulation exists in other parts of the world.”, He further added that after the passage of the bill, engineers would have to clear certain levels of examinations to be acknowledged as a Professional[2].

Though now there is some consensus among professional engineers about generally accepted approaches, methods, and procedures, there still remains a need for education, training, regulation, and standardization of prevalent practices in engineering. India on the threshold of the 21st century is still a developing country; for all the habitats of the country to benefit from the development and to prosper it is imperative that Engineers be a part and parcel of decision making so that rationality is not lost sight of for short term gains which may not sustain in the long run. See what regulations have done in Europe with their ‘CE’ certified products. The Engineers Bill is the only solution in sight and must be set forth by the Parliament.

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything” – Albert Einstein

References:

  1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/govt-proposes-regulatory-body-for-valuation-professionals/articleshow/2690062.cms.

  2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kohima/morth-taking-initiative-for-engineers-bill-iei-president/articleshow/67986818.cms.

  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation_and_licensure_in_engineering

  4. https://ceai.org.in/engineers-bill/engineering-associations/

Compiled by:-

Er. Mainak Ghosal

PhD (pursuing), ME (Struct.), PGDM, MBA (HR), MIE, MSc (REV), BSc, FIV

 

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