However state governments are not amused. They are under pressure from the private engineering colleges to do away with any minimum requirement of marks so that the load factor :-) can be increased in the highly competitive marketplace. In fact, some state governments have refused to accept AICTE rule and gone ahead asking the colleges to admit students with lower marks.
It is not clear whether the state governments can over-rule AICTE legally, but it is clear that AICTE cannot do much, if the state governments do no cooperate. AICTE cannot de-recognize all those colleges in a state which admit students with less than 50 percent marks, since that would be closing down most colleges, and playing with the career of lakhs of students already studying in these colleges. State governments know that, and therefore, can openly allow colleges to violate AICTE rules.
This is a dangerous situation. If states can play this game, knowing any step by the regulator will be so unpopular that it will not be able to do so, then states are essentially trying to get out of regulation altogether. Now, if these state governments were setting up their own regulation which was better than a central regulator, I could see a point (even then I would prefer that a legally acceptable mechanism is created for giving primacy to state government regulator). But if state governments will regulate using political process, that is, the minister and bureaucrats will take a decision to just ignore uncomfortable AICTE rules, then it is essentially saying that we will follow only those laws which we agree with. Just imagine what will happen to a country, if every citizen were to say this. There will be no rule of law.
So what can AICTE do. I suggest that it stops permission for all new colleges, all new programs in existing colleges, all increases in number of seats in existing programs, in the state that does not agree with the 50 percent minimum marks. After all, if you look at the logic given by state government, it is essentially saying that there is already excess of seats, and we must find ways to fill up those seats. If the state governments are publicly saying that there are excess seats, then AICTE should not allow any more seats in that state. Those who wish to start new colleges can do so across state boundaries, or need to wait for a couple of years, by then the pressure on the state government from the good colleges and from those who want to start new colleges will become more than the pressure from poor quality colleges.