Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Tinted glasses and the law

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Editor,

Apropos your news item, ‘Clampdown on tinted glasses, dark films’ (ST November 15, 2011), I would like to shed some light on the legality of the statement of the DGP as appeared in the news item. While I applaud the sincerity and commitment of N Ramachandran, the new DGP, Meghalaya in tackling crime, as a responsible citizen I find his concern of tinted glass/films in cars slightly ill-placed and partly against the existing law. As per the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 promulgated under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (59 of 1988), sub-rule 2 of Rule 100 states that “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”.

Therefore, forbidding the use of black films of any transparency appears to be in conflict with the statutory provision made by Rule 100(2) of The Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.

A similar ban was imposed by Motor Vehicle Department in Delhi by virtue of the an order passed by a Division Bench of the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi in WP(C) No. 16565/2006 whereby a series of directions were issued one out of which related to the use of black films on the front and the rear windscreens and the glasses used on the side windows of motor vehicles. In this judgement the direction issued by the Court was in the following words:

“all other cars/vehicles are hereby prohibited from using the black films of any transparency on their cars”.

However, this order of the High Court of Delhi was challenged in the same court through a Review Petition (C.M. 9754/2007, 13271-72/2007 and R.P. 188/2007 in W.P.(C) 16565/2006) on which the judgement was passed on 21.09.2007 by judges T.S. Thakur and H.R. Malhotra. Here the petitioners were films dealers, manufacturers and others.

In the judgement the court observed that the direction forbidding use of black films of any transparency on the car was contrary to the provisions of Rule 100 of The Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. It stated that “The rule does not forbid manufacture or use of glass with a higher visual transmission than the minimum prescribed, nor does the rule forbid use of films on the windscreens and side windows, so long as the same do not reduce the visual transmission below the minimum prescribed by the rule. The direction issued by this Court forbidding the use of black films of any transparency, therefore, appears to us to be in conflict with the statutory provision made by Rule 100(2) of The Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (supra). The attention of the Court does not appear to have been drawn to the provisions of the said rule for otherwise there was no occasion for the Court to issue a direction contrary to the same in a public interest petition”.

It further stated that “the mandate of sub-rule (2) of Rule 100 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 shall be kept in view. This shall be in addition to any security requirement as may be laid down by the law and order enforcing agencies. The above does not, in our view, lend any support to the prohibition against use of black films of any transparency whatsoever. On the contrary, it dilutes the direction issued by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana by permitting use of films to the extent the same do not offend the provisions of Rule 100(2) of The Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989”.

The honourable High Court also observed that “The traffic officers may not be in a position to determine whether the requirement of Rule 100(2) is being violated by a naked eye examination of the films on the windscreens. They may have to take help of the necessary instruments to determine whether the films used comply with the requirement of visual transmission as prescribed under Rule 100(2). The Traffic Department would, therefore, do well to equip the officers with the necessary gadgets to determine the visual transmission in cases where the owner of the vehicle has used any films on the windscreens or the side windows”.

The judgement concluded by stating that “The direction issued by this Court forbidding use of black films of any transparency on the car is modified to the extent that the traffic police shall strictly enforce the provisions of Rule 100(2) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 and takeaction in accordance with law against anyone using a film contrary to the requirement of the said Rule”.

In the end, it is evident that any attempt to impose blanket ban on the use of tinted glass/films in cars without determining the percentage of transparency/visibility is against the Rule 100(2) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 which has been enacted under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (59 of 1988) which has been passed by the Parliament and will tantamount to infringement on one’s right. Protecting one’s belonging, security and privacy is not a crime as long as it is in accordance with the provisions of law.

Yours etc

Dr Lakhan Kma

Shillong-4

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