Supreme Court of India has banned Sun film in Cars from May 19 (Updated)

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The Supreme Court of India has banned the use of automotive sun-control film completely, across the country, effective from May 19. It’s mandatory for the entire country to have only the recommended density of tinted glass in place as per the Supreme Court decision. Delhi and Mumbai are the only two cities where the rule has been imposed by the state governments. Until now, films of upto 70% transparency for front and rear windows and 50% transparency for side windows were allowed on cars, but henceforth, even such films will have to be removed (The rule is clear – 70% visibility must for front and rear glasses and 50% for the side glasses). Cars equipped with tinted windshields and windows (not film) will remain out of the law’s ambit though, as the consumer is not responsible for them. It’s notable that some car manufacturers do deliver their cars with a slight tint on side windows. The shade, however, is well within the permissible limits in such cases.

“We prohibit the use of black films of any visual light transmission (VLT) percentage or any other material upon the safety glasses, windscreens (front and rear) and side glasses of all vehicles throughout the country” ruled the apex court.

The recent ban on the use of sun-films has created a drive by various states’ police implementing the same in their region by stopping the vehicles and fining them, removing the sun-films on the spot. Apart from ripping off the film on the windows, the fine for the first offence will be Rs 500 and second offence will be Rs 1,000. Currently the fine for the first offence is Rs 100, escalating to Rs 300 for a repetition. If the car owner resists the removal of the film, the car may even be impounded (Cases will be booked under 92 and 100 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rule read with section 177 of Central Motor Vehicles Act. Those found violating the rule after May 19 will attract penalty Rs 100. If the rule is violated for the second time, the penalty will be Rs 300 while for the third consecutive violation, it will be Rs 300 and the driving licence will be suspended).

Police checks the visibility of tinted glass of a car using a light meter on one of Delhis roads

(Note – Police checks the visibility of tinted glass of a car using a light meter on one of Delhi’s roads )

The Supreme Court’s decision has come in the wake of a litigation filed against the use of sun films in criminal cases where the sun films were misused by criminals to hide behind the dark films while they did various crimes on roads including serious crimes like rape. Road accidents also occur due to use of darker glasses and the visibility of traffic cops on duty too goes down. But the advantage of sun film in this tropical nation cannot be ignored and motorists will face the brunt of this ruling. Maybe in future there will be some invention which can help save passengers inside cars from intense sunlight!

Dealers haven’t yet received orders from manufacturers to stop selling sun film and all the dealers still sell it. The car manufacturers will continue to tint glasses, as there is no ban on this. For those confused between tinting and film – tinting is adding a tinge of colour to the glass itself during its manufacture, and this is factory fitted when you buy a new car. Sun-control film is an accessory applied to the car after its purchase. The problem with the latter is that it is difficult to tell if the sun film you are buying actually complies with opacity regulations.

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Manufacturers like 3M, Vkool, Garware have deemed the ruling unfair. The people say that rather than passing such orders, the court should direct the law enforcement agencies to get their act together. This ruling could also indirectly oppose the Environment Ministry ruling for fuel efficiency standards. No window tint means the air conditioner has to work overtime, increasing emissions and decreasing fuel efficiency.

So apart from window glass tinted from the factory, no additional sun protection can be added to your car’s windows. Even VVIPS cannot escape from this ruling as there is no provision to exempt their vehicles from the existing Motor Vehicle Rules. The Supreme Court has said that a committee headed by the home secretary of a state can give exemption to official cars used by Z and Z+ security covered people (chief minister and governor rank onwards), you may be granted exemption from this law.


Also seeFuel efficiency labelling on Cars will come into effect by 2015