It’s the 4th of May, and from today, a blanket ban on all kinds of sun film on car windows comes into place. Even if you had sun film that complied with the legal limits of transparency till now, you will have to remove it. The 17-page Supreme Court ruling that was published a few days ago is clear on this count.

Police forces across the country have been instructed to check and prosecute all cars that have sun film on their windows. In New Delhi, the fine is as high as Rs. 500 for the offence and the policeman has the right to scratch out the film from your car window. If you object, your car can be impounded.

  • SC bans all sun film
  • Even if your sub film’s transparency was within legal limits, after the new ruling, it has become illegal.
  • Applicable to all motor vehicles for now
  • Only factory-fitted tinted glass is legal
sun film ban india
Photo: Ad by Delhi Traffic Police announcing the sun film ban

What does the Court ruling say?

The Supreme Court was responding to a public interest litigation filed by one Avishek Goenka, stating that crimes against women, kidnapping and assault were being increasingly carried out in cars with black window film. He sought that all vehicles must have 100% transparent windows (100% visual light transmission or VLT). However, the court took into account Rule 100 of the 1989 Central Motor Vehicles Rules, which states that “the glass of windscreen and rear window of motor vehicles should have a visibility of at least 70% and that of side windows a minimum visibility of 50%. The specification of glass should conform to Indian Standards [ IS:2553 - Part 2 - 1992 ]. The front windscreen shall be of laminated safety glass, whose pieces do not fly in the event of a crash and edges would be less jagged than in case of ordinary glass.”

Based on this Rule, the Court has said that any car that comes factory-fitted with tinted glasses that conform to the 50% visual light transmission for side windows and 70% visual light transmission for front and rear windscreen is perfectly fine.

This is what the Supreme Court says in Para 18 of its ruling

“If the glass so manufactured already has the VLT as specified, then the question of further reducing it by any means shall be in clear violation of Rule 100 as well as the prescribed IS. Secondly, the rule requires a manufacturer to manufacture the vehicles with safety glasses with prescribed VLT. It is the minimum percentage that has been specified. The manufacturer may manufacture vehicle with a higher VLT to the prescribed limit or even a vehicle with tinted glasses, if such glasses do not fall short of the minimum prescribed VLT in terms of Rule 100. None can be permitted to create his own device to bring down the percentage of the VLT thereafter. Thus, on the plain reading of the Rule and the IS standards, use of black films of any density is impermissible. Another adverse aspect of use of black
films is that even if they reflect tolerable VLT in the day time, still in the night it would clearly violate the prescribed VLT limits and would result in poor visibility, which again would be impermissible.”

What does this mean for you?

For you, the car owner, this means that even if you had enjoyed the use of sun-film so far, you have no choice but to remove the film. Even the use of roller-blinds, curtains, stickers or any other material on the glass is illegal as per paragraph 23 of the Supreme Court order, which states:

“In light of the above discussion, we have no hesitation in holding that use of black films or any other material upon safety glass, windscreen and side windows is impermissible. In terms of Rule 100(2), 70% and 50% VLT standard are relatable to the manufacture of the safety glasses for the windshields (front and rear) and the side windows respectively. Use of films or any other material upon the windscreen or the side windows is impermissible in law. It is the VLT of the safety glass without any additional material being pasted upon the safety glasses which must conform with manufacture specifications.”

Is there anything one can do about this?

One can argue the benefits of sun film such as UV-ray protection and safety – by acting as a laminate sheet and preventing the glass from shattering on impact. The biggest benefit is also in terms of mileage and vehicle emissions. By using sun film cars reduce the load on their air conditioners, which in turn means they burn less fuel, therefore increasing mileage and reducing emissions. Film manufacturers like 3M, V-Kool, Garware and others can file a review petition with the court and seek a stay citing business losses, but it’s unlikely to really have any impact.

No doubt, the order is unfair to the larger population. It’s like saying demolish all walls in a city just because some men urinate on some walls. A blanket ban on all kinds of sun film is not the answer to fighting crime against women or preventing terrorism. There are no statistics to prove that majority of crimes are committed in vehicles with black tinted glasses.

Removing sun film also has its potential problems. If you have a defogger in the car, it could get damaged. Also the danger of scratching windows permanently by improper removal methods is very real. Click here for the proper steps to remove sun film

What are your thoughts on this court order against the use of sun film? Let us know.