Taking cognisance of a petition citing a media report about alleged destruction of vital government files, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued an ad-interim direction to the Chief Secretary that necessary preventive measures be taken to secure public records.

Based on a news report by a television news channel, Maja Daruwala and Venkatesh Nayak of the Access to Information Programme of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative lodged a complaint with the CIC on Friday raising apprehensions about destruction of public records. The complaint highlighted a “sting operation” which showed destruction of public records telecast on December 23. The petitioners prayed that the CIC may urgently admit the petition, hear them and issue an ad-interim direction in view of the urgency of the matter even before issuing notice to the respondent — the Chief Secretary to the Delhi Government. The petitioners also brought to the notice of CIC that earlier too in such emergency situations,

The Commission had issued ad-interim injunction with a purpose to effectively implement the provisions of Right to Information Act.

Accordingly the Commission issued the order, observing that “though principles of natural justice demand hearing of the other side, respondent Chief Secretary of the Delhi Government, due to urgency and lack of time and in view of protecting the records as the circumstances may not wait for a few more days for CIC to issue regular notice of hearing, the respondent having a responsibility as head of the government machinery to protect the public records which is important State property and which could be the evidence of corruption or innocence of responsible public servants, it is considered proper and necessary to issue ‘ad-interim-direction’ to take steps to prevent destruction and secure public records ...”

The respondent has also been directed to issue necessary directions to “record officers” designated under the Public Records Act and the “Public Information Officers” designated under the RTI Act to secure, keep safe and undertake not to destroy, displace or in any other way tamper with or dislocate or dislodge or disturb any official document in the custody of various departments of the Delhi Government.

The matter has been posted for hearing on January 15.

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