The word Chartered hot debate in India

05 December 2006 |

The word "Chartered" we debate on everytime as in word "Chartered Accountant", I thought of finding the origin of this word. Some interesting facts that I came to know when I searching wikipedia and its related links.

A charter is a legally binding document incorporating an organization or institution and specifying its purpose, remit or bylaws. Organisations such as the Institution of Civil Engineers in the UK is chartered to maintain and advance the science and practice of civil engineering in the UK, and by this charter has the right to regulate the business of civil engineering in the UK; this gives rise to a status of a chartered engineer - one who satisfies the requirements of the charter holding organisation.

The BBC operates under a Royal Charter which lasts for a limited period of ten years, after which it is renewed.

Most Royal Charters are now granted to professional institutions and to charities. A Charter is not necessary for them to operate, but one is often sought as a recognition of "pre-eminence, stability and permanence".

The Institute (ICAEW) was established by Royal Charter in 1880. It is now a key influencer on the international stage and the leading UK body of finance professionals offering world class qualifications.

A professional body or professional organization is an organisation, usually non-profit, that exists to further a particular profession, to protect both the public interest and the interests of professionals. The balance between these two may be a matter of opinion. One the one hand, professional bodies act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics in their profession. On the other hand, they may also act like a cartel or a labor union (trade union) for the members of the profession, though this description is commonly rejected by the body concerned. Membership of a professional body does not necessarily mean that a person possesses qualifications in the subject area, nor that they are legally able to practice their profession - although in some countries and professions, membership of a professional body is required for somebody to legally practice.

Many professional bodies also act as learned societies for the academic disciplines underlying their professions

So where does this word come into in Indian scenario ? We don't have a Royal Charter. Americans don't have Royal Charter so they don't have chartered accountants.

Royal Charters, granted by the sovereign on the advice of the Privy Council, have a history dating back to the 13th century. Their original purpose was to create public or private corporations (including towns and cities), and to define their privileges and purpose. Nowadays, though Charters are still occasionally granted to cities, new Charters are normally reserved for bodies that work in the public interest (such as professional institutions and charities) and which can demonstrate pre-eminence, stability and permanence in their particular field.

Many older universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are also Chartered bodies.

What does word "Chartered" mean in India ? I don't think so anything... since we have borrowed the word from the West ?

When you read websites of Indian counter parts... see how they describe themselves...

ICAI website: A statutory body established under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 for the regulation of the profession of chartered accountancy in India. The Institute has achieved recognition as a premier accounting body for its contribution in the fields of education, professional development, maintenance of high accounting, auditing and ethical standards.

What do they mean by words "profession of chartered accountancy in India". English counterpart don't mention that.

About us has now changed on ICAI website changed

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is a statutory body established under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 (Act No. XXXVIII of 1949) for the regulation of the profession of Chartered Accountants in India. During its nearly six decades of existence, ICAI has achieved recognition as a premier accounting body not only in the country but also globally, for its contribution in the fields of education, professional development, maintenance of high accounting, auditing and ethical standards.ICAI now is the second largest accounting body in the whole world.

However see Mission Statement

The Indian Chartered Accountancy profession will be valued trustees of World class Financial competencies, Good Governance and Competencies.

There is only one reference (Sec 24 A) to the word "Chartered Accountancy" in ICAI Act and the Act does not define word "Chartered Accountancy".

ICWAI website: A major task was cost control and cost management of the massive development endeavours that the Cost Accountants accomplished with excellence and did a great service to the nation. Consequently, the Institute got statutory recognition with the enactment of The Cost and Works Accountants Act, 1959 (An Act of the Parliament of India giving statutory recognition to the Institute and formation of the profession of Cost Accountants in India having statutory rights, privileges and duties).

ICSI website: The Institute of Company Secretaries of India is constituted under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980 (Act No. 56 of 1980) to develop and regulate the profession of Company Secretaries in India. It was in 1960 that the Company Law Board started a course in company secretaryship leading to the award of Government Diploma in company Secretaryship. As the number of students taking up the company secretary ship course grew. The Government promoted on 4th October, 1968. The Institute of Company Secretaries of India under Section 25 of the companies Act, 1956 for taking over from the Government the conduct of company Secretaryship examination. The Institute of company Secretaries of India has since been converted into a statutory body w.e.f. 1.1.1981 under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980.

What do you feel, our Indian counterpart should be known..... some word to start or end with Act. ?

The true meaning of professional body is one when reading the ICAEW website, how it manages the profession and how it protects their user group. Click on The Institute

  • Complaints: Find out how we handle complaints about accountants.
  • Governance and structure: Information about what the Institute does and how it is organised.
  • Policy development: Information about the Institute's policy making processes.
  • Protecting the public : Find out about the Institute's regulatory and disciplinary activities.
  • Job vacancies: View the latest vacancies and find out how to apply.

PS: Surprising there is only one Chartered Body in India: See the link and find out

I visited GOI website

to read about specialised institutes in India - what naming convention they have. I was surprised to find that the word "Chartered" is for only one Institute - ICAI.

The most common naming convention used by Institutes are "National Institute of.... or Indian Institute of...." . Why has this word being used only for one Institute and no one else. So name of the Institute with the word "Chartered" is misleading in Indian context.

The word Chartered is used in UK context and has a meaning when you say a Chartered body


As you read the link above, "A Royal Charter is a charter given by a monarch to legitimize an incorporated body, such as a city, company, university or such."

India is a republic and there is no such thing as royal charter. So the name Institute of Chartered Accountants of India is misleading as the word "Chartered" has no meaning.

We have been complaining about word "Chartered" to be used for Institute.... but this does not seem to relevant.

If there is only one Insitute in India with " Chartered", then we have to request a change in name as this is misleading.

Is Mr. Chindambaram listening ?


Santosh Puthran

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