The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Delhi chief secretary to preserve all files, some of which "can be evidence of corruption", left by the Congress government.
The order comes after Venkatesh Nayak and Maja Daruwalla, two members of international NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, filed a petition with the CIC on Friday following a sting operation by a TV channel.
The channel broadcast footage of files allegedly being destroyed in the office of former transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, who is now Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president. Lovely, however, denied the charges.
But, the CIC took cognisance of the complaint and instructed the Delhi chief secretary to ensure that public records, an important state property, be protected.
"They can be evidence of corruption or innocence of responsible public servants," the CIC said.
The directive was issued a day ahead of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) forming a new government. The AAP, which fought the elections on promises of a corruption-free Delhi, has scored a thumping victory over the Congress in the December 4 polls.
The commission also invoked special powers under Section 18 of the Right To Information (RTI) Act which requires public authorities to submit a list of destroyed (legitimately or otherwise) public records (papers and documents) in custody of the government along with the justification for destruction.
Using the powers granted under the RTI Act, the CIC instructed the chief secretary to issue necessary directions to record officials and public information officials to "keep safe" files.
"The commission also directed the respondents to alert the vigilance officers/any other concerned officers to take all preventive steps to protect the records from destruction," the CIC said.
Information commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu also asked the chief secretary to initiate criminal proceedings against any official found to be destructing records as it amounts to serious offence under the Indian Penal Code.
The complainants have alleged that the destruction of files would prevent pleas under the RTI and will curb one’s right to seek information from people.