Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Saturday alleged crores of rupees exchanged hands in the appointment of vice-chancellors to universities before he took over.
Reacting to his remarks, the ruling AIADMK said it had no role to play in the appointments of vice-chancellors.
In the "appointment of vice-chancellors...Exchanging (of) money in crores, I could not believe that, then I decided things have to be changed," Purohit said at an event on education here.
Purohit said people of Tamil Nadu will appreciate that "till date I have selected nine vice-chancellors, purely on merit, nobody can raise a finger (against him)...From vice-chancellor to the primary school teacher all appointment should be clearly on merit."
The governor's remarks have virtually strengthened the opposition criticism against the AIADMK government on the appointment of vice-chancellors to state run varsities.
Pattali Makkal Katchi had in February demanded a CBI probe into alleged corruption in universities in Tamil Nadu.
Higher Education minister K P Anbazhagan said, "I am duty bound to clarify that the government has no role in the appointments of vice-chancellors."
He dubbed Purohit's remarks "surprising," since the recommendations to governor to make appointments of vice-chancellors were made by search committees over which the government had no control.
The government appointed only one member -an eminent educationist of standing or a government secretary- to the search committees to recommend vice-chancellors while the other members were named by the university syndicate and the governor-a retired judge- respectively.
The government does not even see or ask who were recommended to the top posts by the committee, he said, adding only the governor selected the vice-chancellor based on the recommendations of the search committee.
The minister said this was the norm that was being followed in the selection of vice-chancellors even before the incumbent governor assumed office.
Speaking to reporters at Dharmapuri, the minister said: "What the governor had in mind when he made the remarks can be answered only by him."
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said the government would take action "if there is truth in the allegations, and if the identity of those who got posts by shelling out money becomes known."
In February this year, then vice-chancellor of Bharathiyar University, Coimbatore, A Ganapathy, was arrested by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption in a bribery case following which he was suspended.
In November 2016, now defunct Coimbatore-Anna University's former vice-chancellor R Radhakrishnan was convicted in a graft case by a court and he was sentenced to undergo five years rigorous imprisonment.
In August last, a scam in award of marks during revaluation was exposed in the premier Anna University here.
Besides graft allegations, the appointment of vice-chancellors to some universities have also been mired in controversies for other reasons as well.