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  1. #9
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    Re: Can absence of policy be claimed as an excuse to provide information?


    After a great deal of effort, we could get hold of the policy document that was being claimed as non-existent. What are the options available to us for dealing with the denial of information on false pretexts?

    Also the answer given to the following queries:

    • Who is responsible for safety of CSIR employees at the workplace? Is it not the responsibility of CSIR and its institutions to provide a safe working place to employees? What are the laws of Indian Union applicable to CSIR and its institutions that prescribe the health and safety of its employees?
    • In case of work related injury or death at workplace of an employee, what is the responsibility of CSIR and its institutions towards the employee and his/her family? Are the employees eligible for any compensation for disablement or death caused at the workplace? If yes, how is the quantum of compensation arrived at?
    • Provide a list of accidents, quantified loss of property, injuries and deaths that took place, at each of the CSIR institutions for the last 20 years year wise.
    Ans: Since the documents pertaining to the information sought in these paras are not available hence no information can be furnished on these matters.

    Every question can be denied answer under such a pretext. So how to get information under RTI if all questions could be denied answers in this manner. Members advice requested.

    baburaok


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  2. #10
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    Re: Can absence of policy be claimed as an excuse to provide information?


    Dear Shri Baburao,
    Happy to hear that you could get hold of the policy document. If there is some way by which you can upload the said document or provide a link to it, our members can go through the same and suggest apropriate RTI queries/remedies for your problem.
    Defeat is not final when you fall down. It is final when you refuse to get up.

  3. #11
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    Re: Can absence of policy be claimed as an excuse to provide information?


    It is available as a hard copy. I can convert it into a soft copy. It is about 12 pages. Please suggest a way I can link it to the forum. One of the statements in the policy is, "A copy of this policy is to be issued to all CSIR staff and researchers working in CSIR." But unfortunately, CSIR is not ready to part with it even under RTI.

    baburaok

  4. #12
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    Re: Can absence of policy be claimed as an excuse to provide information?



    Please find below the safety policy statement that I could get access to. That should be adequate for making suggestions as the balance of the document deals with guidelines and recommendations for implementation of the policy. Please give your inputs on the next course of action we can take for denying information.

    baburaok

    Safety at Work – CSIR’s Policy Statement
    It is the mission of CSIR to provide research and development which will maximize the economic, environmental, and societal benefit for the people of India. In the accomplishment of this mission, CSIR attaches the greatest value to its people, who constitute its most important productive asset. CSIR further believes that the safety and health of its staff are a matter of paramount concern and accords it an equal importance and priority as for research and development and other S&T supporting activities. Thus the safety policy of CSIR is to design, resource and conduct its R&D activities and render services in a responsible manner so as to ensure:
    safety and health of its staff and others who are likely to be affected by its activities;
    safety and protection of its infrastructure; and
    best possible environmental option.
    2. CSIR believes that all accidents are preventable through the development of appropriate systems of safety management. Lapses in safety thus signify a loss of management control. As such, CSIR is committed to monitoring and continuous improvement in its safety and health performance. In recognition of this responsibility CSIR hereby commits itself, so far as is reasonably practicable, to:
    provide and maintain a working environment and systems of work which are safe and free from risks to health;
    maintain all places of work, buildings, equipment and facilities, including means of access and egress there to, in a condition that is safe and without risks to health;
    provide arrangements for ensuring safety, and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling storage, and transport of articles and substances and safe disposal of effluent and waste materials;
    provide such information, instruction, supervision and training as are necessary, to ensure the safety and health of staff at work;
    ensure appropriate arrangements, for the effective planning, organization, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures; and
    ensure that the employees are competent with regard to the activities they are required to undertake.
    3. CSIR acknowledges that its Safety Policy would be effective and successful only through active consultation with and involvement of its staff. As such appropriate arrangements are to be made to ensure regular consultation and involvement of staff on matters of safety and health. In return the staff have concomitant duties and responsibility towards ensuring the fulfillment of the safety policy by:
    taking reasonable care for the safety and health of themselves and of other people who may be affected by their acts or omissions;
    ensuring and assisting in the proper use of any appliance, guard, device or other methods provided for the purposes of securing safety and health in the workplace; and
    co-operating with CSIR in all matters of safety and health aimed at implementing this policy.
    4. Director General CSIR, while acknowledging his ultimate responsibility, hereby devolves responsibility to the Directors of laboratories to ensure that the Safety Policy is adequately implemented. Directors of laboratories have the responsibility to ensure that local organization and arrangements for the implementation of the safety policy are developed, promulgated, regularly reviewed and updated as necessary. CSIR through its Directors further requires scientists, researchers and all supporting staff to accord the same level of importance and priority to safety and health matters as they do to R&D and S&T services.
    5. CSIR will provide adequate information, advice and training to laboratories on matters of safety and health through its Central Safety Cell.
    6. The Director General will ensure that the Safety Policy is regularly reviewed and updated. The policy will be supplemented by a statement of Organisation & Arrangements and CSIR codes as are necessary for ensuring safety at work.
    A copy of this policy is to be issued to all CSIR staff and researchers working in CSIR.
    R A Mashelkar
    Director General CSIR
    New Delhi
    Guidelines and Recommendations on the organization and Arrangements for the implementation of CSIR safety policy are covered in the balance of the report.

  5. #13
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    Re: Can absence of policy be claimed as an excuse to provide information?


    Dear Shri Baburao,
    Besides the general policy statement that you have provided, the detailed guidelines and arrangements for implementation are required to find out the lacuna in implementing the said guidelines and to fix the responsibility on the persons who have failed to implement such guidelines/arrangements. If it is possible, scan the recommendations and send it as an attachment with your post. Otherwise you will have to carefully analyse each and every provision and come to your won assessment as to which areas safety measures have not been implemented or have been done in a deficient manner.

    Since the documents pertaining to the information sought in these paras are not available hence no information can be furnished on these matters.
    I believe the above reply of the PIO to your RTI question is not to the point and evasive. We do not have the benefit of seeing your original RTI application. Did you ask for information available on record or documents connected with such information?

    At this stage, now two options are available to you. The first one is to make an appeal to your first Appellate Authority within the stipulated time. The second is to make another RTI application with appropriately loaded questions which will be difficult for the PIO to evade. I would suggest you to exercise both the options. If you need the assistance of our forum members, please upload your original RTI application, the reply of the PIO and also the detailed guidelines stipulated for safety measures(as attachments to your post) to enable us to study the same in detail and suggest you the necessary remedial measures.
    Defeat is not final when you fall down. It is final when you refuse to get up.

  6. #14
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    Re: Can absence of policy be claimed as an excuse to provide information?


    Dear Sri Ganpatiji,

    Please see the posting 9 in this thread in which I gave the list of three questions and the answer obtained from the PIO. No reference was made to any document. text of my application is placed below. I have not sought response based on any document. Earlier to this I requested a copy of the safety policy in one question and asked other questions without reference to that document. Then too reply was that there is no policy hence the questions cannot be answered.

    Dear Sir,
    I understand that CSIR had sent a team of scientists from different laboratories and Head quarters to study safety at various research institutes in Europe and America sometime around 1994 or later. Also a scientist from each of the constituent laboratories was sent to University of Sunderland, UK for a months training in laboratory safety and after their return a workshop was conducted for them at CCMB around July 1998. Is it right?


    <DIR><DIR>1. Please give details of the countries and institutes visited, duration of the visit and the outcome of the visit. What is the contribution of the scientists that were sent towards safety in CSIR and its institutions? Please also provide the names of the scientists and others sent abroad along with the name of their institutions/laboratories.
    2. What was the purpose and desired outcome from this visit? Was it realized? If yes, how and if not why?
    3. What is the total amount spent on this visit for the team?
    4. How many laboratories participated in the training programme in UK? Please furnish the names of deputed persons and the money spent on each of them for this training including the total amount for this training programme.
    5. What is the outcome of the workshop conducted at CCMB with faculty from the UK University? Did it result in development of any safety policies/procedures for CSIR institutions?
    6. Information on any other deputations from CSIR related to safety training during the past 15 years, including details of the number of persons sent, the institutions they belong to, and the cost involved.
    7. Who is responsible for safety of CSIR employees at the workplace? Is it not the responsibility of CSIR and its institutions to provide a safe working place to employees? What are the laws of Indian Union applicable to CSIR and its institutions that prescribe the health and safety of its employees?
    8. In case of work related injury or death at workplace of an employee, what is the responsibility of CSIR and its institutions towards the employee and his/her family? Are the employees eligible for any compensation for disablement or death caused at the workplace? If yes, how is the quantum of compensation arrived at?
    9. Provide a list of accidents, quantified loss of property, injuries and deaths that took place, at each of the CSIR institutions for the last 20 years year wise.
    10. Is there any budget provision for safety measures in CSIR and its institutions? What is the amount allocated in the budget and the amount actually spent year wise for the last 10 years?


    </DIR></DIR>I request that the CSIR Head quarters collect all the information from individual laboratories if necessary and provide me the consolidated information as per the queries raised above.

    Few days back I filed another application, before receiving the reply for the above application. It is:

    I am a citizen herewith applying for information under the RTI Act in public interest that involves protection to life of CSIR employees.
    Please provide me information and copies of relevant documents as requested in the following:

    <DIR><DIR>1. PIO, CSIR in response to an earlier application responded thus: ".. no such instructions/document named as ‘Safety Policy’ has been issued by CSIR Headquarters, hence document/information in this regard is not available in CSIR Headquarters." [Lr. No. 46-2(306)/2006-RTI].
    Is there any document that deals with responsibilities towards safety of employees in CSIR whatever the name of the document?
    If so provide a copy. Can CSIR deny the right to life guaranteed under the constitution of India for its employees under the pretext that it has no policy? When an employee of CSIR loses life in accident while at work – What rules/regulations/policies/procedures/laws etc apply?
    2. COA IICT sought permission of the Legal Advisor, CSIR for engaging Sri S. Malla Rao, Advocate to appear on behalf of IICT and requested for decision of CSIR to contest the case filed by Late Sudhakara Rao’s family and vakalatnama [IICT/COA/MISC/ 95(Vig) dated 6 October 1995]. It was given and the case was lost in the district court later. Then IICT sought the advice of the legal advisor for further course of action. [Lr. No. IICT:Vig:AVL:2K: dated 5 September 2000] Approval for filing an appeal in AP High Court was given vide Lr. No. 17/46/95-Law/5060 dated 19 September 2000.
    Under what policy of CSIR, or law of the land were the decisions taken to contest the claim for compensation and file an appeal against the judgement in absence of a safety policy in CSIR?
    3. DIICT [IICT/AVLS/VIG/02 dated august 12, 2002] and Dr. A. Srinivasa Rao [Letter dated 16 January 2003] appealed to DG, CSIR to withdraw the appeal made to AP High Court. Letters and file noting obtained under RTI referred to in (1) indicate that except writing a letter to Sri S. Malla Rao, Standing Counsel appointed by IICT/CSIR for dealing with this case seeking his opinion no further action was taken on the appeals [20/22 January 2003 and 5 February 2003].
    Under what policy, rules, procedures or law of the land are the decisions on the life and welfare of scientists/employees of CSIR are left to the opinion of a lawyer engaged on a fee?
    Is the opinion of a hired lawyer more important than the appeal of a Director of a CSIR made to set right an injustice meted to a scientist’s family who lost him in accident in the premises of the institute during working hours?
    This lawyer who already lost the case in the lower court has not even cared to respond to the letter from the legal cell of CSIR for the last four years.
    Has CSIR been able to elicit expert opinion of this lawyer engaged by it since?
    If not what is the justification for such callous treatment to an appeal from a Director? Or is it a game played by CSIR and DIICT jointly to avoid taking decision on the matter under the pretext of lack of legal opinion? What is the reason for continuing this lawyer who does not care to answer IICT/CSIR?

    Please help with your suggestions for proceding further.

    baburaok

    </DIR></DIR>

  7. #15
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    Re: Can absence of policy be claimed as an excuse to provide information?


    To my mind the existance or non-existance of any policy on the matter has any relevance to the RTI Act. The aspects to be considered are (a) Is the information held by the public authority ? (b) Is the information comes under the exceptions given in Section 8 ? The only aspect need examination is that whether the policy support Sections 8(d), 8(e) 8(f) 8(g) and 8(j) of the Act. Other sub sections does not appear to have any relevencein this case. However kindly note proviso to Section 8(1), 8(2) and 8(3).

  8. #16
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    Re: Can absence of policy be claimed as an excuse to provide information?


    colnrkurup,

    There is nopossibility of seeking exemption under section 8 and the CPIO has not stated that in his response. The policy itself states "A copy of this policy is to be issued to all CSIR staff and researchers working in CSIR." A member of staff also sought a copy of the policy from the CPIO and he got the same stock reply of no policy document and hence no reply to queries. I have experience in safety and interact with experts abroad on safety matters. Even schools and colleges in OECD countries are covered for strict implementation of safety regulations there and are fined heavily for any violations. One can access the safety policy and manual of universities and colleges on the Internet.

    Actually safety implementation calls for transparency. The hazard communication standard applicable in all US workplaces has RTI as a component of it. A worker has a right to ask for safety information on the material/substance/chemical he/she is asked to use in course of duty and has a right to refuse to work with it if not adequately convinced about its safety and the methods of handling employed. Same provisons exist in UK and Europen union. Amendments brought in the factories Act 1948 after the Bhopal disaster do contain obligations on the part of Occupier to inform the workers and even the neighbourhood on the hazards of the chemicals/substances being used in the process (section 41) An NGO applied for information to GPCB for an Environmental Audit Report of a private company in Gujarat and on denial under section 8 appealed to GIC AppealNo. 616/06-07 ;(Under Section 19 of the Right to Information Act 2005) ; The 24<SUP>th Day of January, 2007 aginst GPCB. GIC gave a ruling that contains:
    The Commission took serious objection to the denial of access to information inspite of the order of the respondent No.2. Whether rightly or not, the respondent No.2 had also heard the so called "Third Party". Therefore, denial of information by respondent No.1, prima facie, appears to be malafide.
    At the conclusion of the personal hearing the Commission orders the respondents that a copy of the Environment Audit Report, as sought for by the appellant be furnished to him without further delay, within two days.

    Under these circumstances, denying information on the bais of section 8 is meaningless on a matter that deals with safety of employees. CPIO has not claimed any exemption under that section, so why consider section 8 at all.

    baburaok
    </SUP>

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