Monday, August 16, 2010

Architecture council under CBI scanner over affiliations

The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) has tightened the noose around the Council of Architecture (CoA), an apex body of professional architects which has been accused of granting affiliations to institutions and courses without any authority. On August 13, the agency conducted raids in Goa and Delhi and seized documents related to unauthorized affiliations granted to several courses and institutes in India. The raid in Goa was carried out at Vidya Vardhan's Institute of Design, Environment and Architecture, whose director V.S. Sohoni is also the President of CoA. Sohoni is alleged to have violated various guidelines of the central government in running CoA, a national level autonomous body recognized by the Union government. CBI had last year received a letter from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), after which a preliminary investigation was launched.

COA is similar to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India where professionals need to register themselves. It has no right to give recognition to courses or colleges. We have found several such cases where CoA's name was used to grant recognition. Sohoni's college in Goa is also one of the institutes where students were given false representation, said a CBI official. We are probing all such colleges and institutions which have been given affiliation during the tenure of Sohoni, who has been the head of COA since 2004. The documents seized have been sent for forensic examination. The role of other officials of COA is also under scanner and nationwide raids are being carried out to unearth the entire scam. We have come to know during investigation that in many cases, the Council did not even seek approval of the ministry in decision-making, the official added.

The power to recognize a course or institute is vested with the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) only. This is not first time that an apex institution has come under the radar of CBI. Last year, it had arrested the top brass of AICTE for allegedly demanding bribe to give recognition to institutes. More recently, Medical Council of India (MCI) chief Ketan Desai was arrested on similar charges by the CBI and an FIR was registered against him.

Source: The Times of India, August 16, 2010

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