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Updated: June 12, 2012 12:53 IST

Did verdict err on banning sun films?

Krishnaprasad
Comment (11)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
If there is a need to ensure a certain percentage of visibility
from the outside into the vehicle from the security angle, then law has to be
amended suitably on scientific basis and study. File Photo
The Hindu If there is a need to ensure a certain percentage of visibility from the outside into the vehicle from the security angle, then law has to be amended suitably on scientific basis and study. File Photo

The law only prescribes maintenance of a minimum level of visual light transmission

Did the Supreme Court “err” in interpreting that the law does not permit use of sun films on vehicles' windscreens and only vehicle manufacturers can provide tinted glass with users having no right to alter the level of tint by affixing sun films?

Jurists and other experts in the State, who have analysed the Supreme Court's verdict, the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Rules 1989, and the technical specifications, say the verdict appears to have “erroneously interpreted Section 100 of the Rules, which prescribe the minimum level of transmission of visual light and specification for laminated safety glasses for preventing injuries due to damage.”

What the rule says

They categorically state that the rule only prescribes maintenance of a certain minimum level of transmission of visual light (commonly known as VLT) through these glasses and the Indian Standard technical specification for making these glasses safe, and not about the use or prohibition of sun films.

The former Advocate General B.V. Acharya points out that the rule clearly states that glasses should not have a VLT less than 70 per cent on the front and the rear windscreen and not less than 50 per cent on the side windows.

“However, the rule does not forbid the manufacture or use of glass with a higher VLT than the minimum prescribed, nor does the rule forbid altering the VLT level using films on the windscreens and side windows, so long as it is not reduced below the minimum level prescribed.

Hence, the rule gives absolute right to the user/owner of the vehicle to choose or alter percentage of VLT within the permitted range or limit and not to the manufacturer,” says Mr. Acharya.

Comfort level

Obviously, Mr. Acharya points out, manufacturers have, all these years, not reduced the VLT (or with the tint) in the permitted range at the manufacturing level, rightly leaving this option to the users. The ultimate right to select VLT level within the permitted limits should vest with users as it relates to comfort level of their eyesight.

The court rightly declined the petitioner's plea to ask the government to provide VLT of 100 per cent instead of levels prescribed saying that it cannot issue such direction, but later “erred” to state that the user cannot bring down VLT using sun films even as the law itself allows variation within the permitted range, Mr. Acharya said. By wrongly interpreting the rules, Mr. Acharya points out, the Supreme Court has virtually legislated a new law, having far-reaching consequences and with retrospective effect, which it is not competent to do.

‘Where is expertise?'

“If the government comes out with a wrong piece of legislation, people can approach courts for immediate remedy. But what will be the impact on the people if courts go wrong on matters having direct impact on citizens? Judges are not experts in all fields.

Hence, the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, will have to exercise self-restraint when it deals with issues that are in the domain of legislation on which it does not have any expertise and control,” he added.

Uday Holla, another former Advocate General, said the Supreme Court should have referred the issue to an experts' panel first.

‘Doesn't go deep'

Both he and Mr. Acharya said that the verdict does not delve into core aspect like for what purpose specific VLT level is prescribed by law, and the availability of vehicles with factory-fitted tinted glasses.

Moreover, the views, if any, of the Union Ministry of Road Transport are not recorded in what they termed as a “knee-jerk” verdict which followed the “undue claim” made in the public interest litigation linking use of sun films on windows of vehicles to the rise in crimes such as kidnapping, sexual assault and dacoity.

The Supreme Court had no support of either the statistics or a study on this aspect, Mr. Holla added. Both, however, made it clear that the use of sun films above the prescribed VLT limit should be dealt with stringently.

Surroundings

Mr. Holla said the VLT limit prescribed in the Motor Vehicles Rules is from the point of view of safety to ensure that the driver has sufficient visibility, both during day and night, of the surroundings and not for visibility into the vehicle.

“If there is a need to ensure a certain percentage of visibility from the outside into the vehicle from the security angle, then law has to be amended suitably on scientific basis and study,” Mr. Holla said and added that the verdict could be reviewed to set right the perception.

More In: Bengaluru

If the supreme court reviews and accept for 70% VLT, will the victims
get the penalty back?

If the honb'le SC has no technical idea, it should have asked the
corresponding dept to make good justice. Why this kolaveri on car
owners?

from:  vayitheruchal Car Owner
Posted on: Jun 15, 2012 at 11:04 IST

I don't understand how the Supreme court can be so short-sighted. In a
hot country like India, installing sunfilm with a visibility of 50% is
mandatory. Somehow, the common man always takes a beating by these
stupid judgements. The simpler thing would be to ban sunfilm that is
over 50% VLT and the police can penalise such vehicles.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Jun 14, 2012 at 00:15 IST

The ban is not the ideal solution to the problem, as the sun films are
taken off to reduce kidnappings, rape and other charges, but is it right
to impose bans, just to cut the one way of committing crime of these
types, in fact this ban will lead to other ways of commitment of crime
like stealing, visibility of passengers inside the vehicle(esp females).
A law cannot be imposed to stop one type of crime(kidnapping) and
provoke the other type(theft).

from:  Abhaar Singh
Posted on: Jun 13, 2012 at 18:55 IST

Moreover, does this ban applicable for politicians cars as well? Could
we see them clearly while they travel and block the roads? If no,
where's democracy here?

from:  Vinodh
Posted on: Jun 13, 2012 at 11:22 IST

But, what is the final verdict, the sunfilm can be left as is in the
cars or should be removed? Atleast in the recent 2 weeks couldn't find
any cops cornering the cars. Any ideas....

from:  Vinodh
Posted on: Jun 13, 2012 at 11:14 IST

Pathetic state of affairs ! Over the past few months, thousands of people went frenzy over the decision to remove the film which protects them from sun. Imagine a person putting the sun film one day only to find that Supreme court has banned them the next day !! Will supreme court reimburse for these losses? Traffic Police catching people for sun film and fining them hundreds of rupees adds salt to the wound. Traffic police rarely seem to catch any one who is genuinely breaking the rules which 'AFFECT or ENDANGER' other fellow travellers. Definitely a sorry state of affair !!

from:  Arun
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 23:13 IST

Here goes my guess. Without sun films , now social evil elements can easily find out who is in the car and what is in the car and commit crimes like kidnapping , rape ,looting etc. With the rise of such incidents, SC will bring a new rule that every car MUST have sun film. sometimes I wonder if I am truly in a democratic country. less said the better about the plight of common people.

from:  chandan
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 20:12 IST

The ban is not the ideal solution to the problem, as the sun films are taken off to reduce kidnappings, rape and other charges, but is it right to impose bans, just to cut the one way of committing crime of these types, in fact this ban will lead to other ways of commitment of crime like stealing, visibility of passengers inside the vehicle(esp females). A law cannot be imposed to stop one type of crime(kidnapping) and provoke the other type(theft).

from:  Abhaar Singh
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 18:40 IST

We will shortly witness - A girl who was driving alone to her home at night were kidnapped by a set of youngsters after finding that she was alone in the car

from:  Siyas
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 16:50 IST

Supreme court has overreached in its judgement while deciding on the relation of VLT in cars and rapes/crimes. What should ought to be a comment or anguish expressed by the judge has found it's way into the judgement. Wonder if the judge has found a magic wand to wish away rapes and other crimes occurring in moving vehicles?
Bangalore police has gone after the easiest catch to find one more way of fining the public. Forget about maintaining (a) lane discipline, (b) traffic lights (c) changing lanes (d) honking (e) pollution, add one more item to that list, go after people with sun films.

from:  Yogesh Kamat
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 15:47 IST

Finally. I feel gratified that a legally qualified person has finally endorsed my view that VLT% is meant for the visibilty of the driver and not meant for the visibilty of the insides of the car. I had 3M CR70 films and honestly, I do not see any difference in visibilty from inside the car after removing films. I find it a bit unnerving that people are concerned about privacy and safety of things stored in the car. As a rule I have always put laptop / bags in the boot whenever I have had to park in open places. I did not put films in my car for privacy. I did so, because I understood the benefits of having them in the car. I am unable to convince the kids, I teach in the weekends, that this is a correct law. They want to know why, as they helped me peel the film off. I need these kids to respect the law and be law abiding citizen when they grow up. Afterall they look up to me as some kind of hero and it will break my heart to let them down.

from:  Rengarajan
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 15:14 IST
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