The Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) has come under intense scrutiny after removing two trustees and appointing new trustees in their placevwhich is in clear violation of IIA’s constitution and bye-laws. This action has led to accusations of power abuse by the 106 year old body of architects.
The letter sent to Architect Ramesh Bhambhani (one of the removed trustees) by newly elected President Architect Vilas Avachat reads as below:
“The Council of the Indian Institute of Architects in its 1st meeting for the term 2023-2025 held on 22nd July 2023, appointed Ar. Prakash Deshmukh, Ar. Jit Kumar Gupta and Ar. Dilip Chandra Chatterjee as Trustees of IIA from 1st August 2023 to 31st March, 2026.
We the Office Bearers and the Council Members of IIA express our deep sense of gratitude for
rendering your valuable services as a trustee of the institute during the last 3 years. I further expect
your co-operation & guidance in carrying out various activities of the Institute in future.”
It is assumed that a similar letter would have gone to Architect Thimmaiah also.
In the IIA’s Bye-Laws and Constitution, there is no provision to remove the trustees. The constitution only mentions about appointment of new trustees. The trustees, however, can be removed by the Charity Commissioner, as per Clause 41 D of the Bombay Public Trusts Act 1950. The clause reads,
41. D. Suspension, removal and dismissal of trustees:
(1) The Charity Commissioner may, either on application of a trustee or any person interested in the trust, or on receipt of a report under section 41B or suo motu suspend, remove or dismiss any trustee of a public trust, if he —
(a) makes persistent default in the submission of accounts, report or return
(b) wilfully disobeys any lawful orders issued by the Charity Commissioner, under the provisions of this Act or rules made thereunder by the State Government;
(C) continuously neglects his duty or commits any malfeasance or misfeasance, or breach of trust in respect of the trust ;
(d) misappropriates or deals improperly with the properties of the trust of which he is a trustee; or
(e) accepts any position in relation to the trust which is inconsistent with his position as a trustee;
(f) is convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude.
Also, as per the clause 36A, of the Bombay Public Trusts Act 1950, it is the trustees who have the power to take action for prudent and beneficial management of the trust and this action is meant to prevent them from performance of their duties in the interests of the Institute.
Several members of the Indian Institute of Architects have questioned the constitutionality and the legality of the act of removal of the trustees. This is even more inappropriate keeping in view that these trustees had questioned the conduct of the elections by a software vendor employed by the institute instead of a neutral third party agency like the NSDL.
We reached out to the trustees, Architect Ramesh Bhambhani and Architect Thimmaiah, to know their views on this matter. Architect Bhambhani shared that the matter is already sub-judice, and both Architect Ramesh Bhambhani and Past President, Architect Thimmaiah, have filed an appeal and complaint with the Charity Commissioner, State of Maharashtra, who is the competent authority for appropriate adjudication of their appeal.
Architect Ramesh Bhambhani further shared that in his letter addressed to the President he had demanded signed and approved minutes of the 1st Council Meeting, wherein this decision was taken by the newly constituted council. However, till the time of going to press, the present President has not responded to the demand.
Some of the IIA members have written to the President Architect Vilas Avachat seeking clarification on the action. The response from the IIA is still awaited.