We are experiencing a really hot summer. This year I have felt the heat much more than before. Probably age.
A couple of days ago I had parked the car in the shade of a tree. With the passage of time, the shade moved and the car was basking in the hot noon sun. With my work done, it was time to drive home. You know the scene. The car was terribly hot. The insides were really hot, the steering wheel almost un – graspable, the mass of plastic that forms the dashboard was untouchable. I was hot and sweaty, irritated and thirsty; I switched on the air conditioning, lowered the windows and tried to get the heat out. But this was not much use. The insides were just too hot for the air conditioning to cope. The sun was still beating down not making things cooler. The air blowing from the vents was cool if you went close to the vent, but became as warm as the car as it traversed towards my face. It was quite hopeless.
In this situation, in my mind I thought about all the lucky half wit builders we have in Mumbai zooming in their SUV’s with dark film on their vehicle glass doing the dark deeds they do. I thought about all the `Mantri’s’, `Babu’s’, the `Mahapaor’ [Mayor] and other sundry VIP’s who zoom in their blacked out cars with security in tow. Bottom line is that the air-conditioning in their cars would work superbly. That was all I was concerned about. Here I was, the fool who buys flats from the half wit builders and the bigger fool who pays his taxes so that the `Mantri’s’, `Babu’s’, the `Mahapaor’ [Mayor] and other sundry VIP’s can get their salaries, struggling in the heat with a struggling air-conditioned while they chill out.
So I decided that I needed to figure out what exactly is the legal position on tinted glass in cars. Let me tell you that I was rather surprised to find out the position. Basically, we mango people have no hope.
One Avishek Goenka, a public spirited person, filed a public interest Writ in the Supreme Court seeking an order that the use of ``black’ tint on vehicle windows be banned in toto and that all vehicles should have glass with 100% Visual Light Transmission [VLT]. Grant of this prayer would mean that no level of tinting is to be permitted, so, obviously, no fixing of any film nothing, just clear glass.
Have a look at Rule 100 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. I am reproducing it here for you with some of my own highlighting.
“The glass of the windscreen and rear window of every motor vehicle shall be such and shall be maintained in such a condition that the visual transmission of light is not less than 70%. The glasses used for side windows are such and shall be maintained in such condition that the visual transmission of light is not less than 50%, and shall conform to Indian Standards ...........”
Now what does this mean? This means that a manufacturer can install glass where the VLT is not less than 70% [for front and rear] and not less than 50% [for the sides]. The words used are glasses shall be..... . Would this mean, for example, that if the windscreen had 90% VLT you could install film to reduce the VLT to 70% and still be compliant? I would think that this would be possible, that is, you could tint the glass or affix film so long as the VLT did not fall below 70% and 50% as the case may be.
But no. I am wrong. 3 Judges of the Honourable Supreme Court by an order dated 27th April 2012 held that once the car is made, and the glass is compliant as specified by Rule 100, then you cannot affix any film or in any way tamper with the VLT. So, all the stories that you have heard from a salesman that such and such film are `RTO approved’ is complete humbug.
After 27th April 2012 you cannot have any film on the glass. That is a blanket ban no if’s, no buts’,
I am rather disturbed by the decision taken by the Supreme Court. Personally, I see no reason why affixing of film to remain complaint with Rule 100 should not be allowed. Thus, if a cop stops you and demands you remove the film that you believe is `RTO approved’ you will be wrong. The cop will be right and you will be forced to remove the film.
Here is a link to the Supreme Court Judgement. Do read paragraph 17. That is the crux of the matter.
By the way, you may wonder how the the `Mantri’s’, `Babu’s’, the `Mahapaor’ zip around with blacked out glass. Our wonderful Supreme Court has very helpfully suggest a way out for them. How nice. This is what the Supreme Court says.
Another issue that has been raised in the present Writ Petition is that certain VIPs/VVIPs are using black films on their vehicles for security reasons. Even this practice is not supported by law, as no notification by the competent authority has been brought to our notice, giving exemption to such vehicles from the operation of Rule 100 or any of its provisions. Be that as it may, we do not wish to enter upon the arena of the security and safety measures when the police department and Home Ministry consider such exemption appropriate. The cases of the persons who have been provided with Z and Z+ security category may be considered by a Committee consisting of the Director General of Police/Commissioner of Police of the concerned State and the Home Secretary of that State/Centre. It will be for that Committee to examine such cases for grant of exemption in accordance with law and upon due application of mind. These certificates should be provided only in relation to official cars of VIPs/VVIPs, depending upon the category of security.