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Confused re: tinted glass on vehicles? Read the SC order here

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  • karmayog - tanya
    http://trafficpolicemumbai.org/Tinted%20glass%20judgement.pdf MONDAY, MAY 21, 2012 Supreme Court judgement on sun control films / tinted glass in cars Avishek
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 17, 2013
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      http://trafficpolicemumbai.org/Tinted%20glass%20judgement.pdf

      MONDAY, MAY 21, 2012
      Supreme Court judgement on sun control films / tinted glass in cars
      Avishek Goenka Vs. Union of India & Anr.
      IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
      CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
      WRIT PETITION (CIVIL ) NO . 265 OF 2011

      Head Note:-
      Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 - Rule 100 - Visual Light Transmission (VLT) -
      Use of black films on windows / windshields of four-wheeled vehicles -
      Court prohibited the use of black films of any VLT percentage or any other
      material upon the safety glasses, windscreens (front and rear) and side
      glasses of all vehicles throughout the country.

      J U D G M E N T
      Swatanter Kumar , J .
      1. Alarming rise in heinous crimes like kidnapping, sexual assault on women
      and
      dacoity have impinged upon the right to life and the right to live in a safe
      environment which are within the contours of Article 21 of the Constitution
      of
      India. One of the contributory factors to such increase is use of black
      films on
      windows/windshields of four-wheeled vehicles. The petitioner, as a public
      spirited
      person, has invoked the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under
      Article 32 of
      the Constitution in the present public interest litigation, praying for
      certain
      directions to stop this menace. According to the petitioner, this Court
      should
      issue a writ or direction requiring use of such safety glasses on the
      windows/windshields in vehicles having 100 per cent Visual Light
      Transmission
      (for short 'VLT') only and, to that extent, the petitioner challenges the
      correctness
      of Rule 100 of the Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (for short "the Rules"). He
      also
      prays for prohibition on use of black films on the glasses of the vehicles,
      proper
      implementation of law in that behalf and finally, for taking stringent
      actions
      against the offenders, using vehicles with black filmed glasses. He also
      prays
      that a larger police force should be deputed to monitor such offences.

      2. The use of black films upon the vehicles gives immunity to the violators
      in
      committing a crime and is used as a tool of criminality, considerably
      increasing
      criminal activities. At times, heinous crimes like dacoity, rape, murder and
      even
      terrorist acts are committed in or with the aid of vehicles having black
      films
      pasted on the side windows and on the screens of the vehicles. It is stated
      that
      because of nonobservance of the norms, regulations and guidelines relating
      to
      the specifications for the front and rear windscreens and the side windows
      of the
      vehicles, the offenders can move undetected in such vehicles and commit
      crimes
      without hesitation.

      3. The word 'tinted' means shade or hue as per the dictionary. The rear and
      front
      and side glasses of vehicles are provided with such shade or tint, and
      therefore,
      they are widely referred to as 'tinted glasses', which is different from
      'black films'.
      The glasses of the vehicles having a coating of black films cannot be termed
      as
      'tinted glasses' because they are not manufactured as such.

      4. Besides aiding in commission of crimes, black films on the vehicles are
      also at
      times positively correlated with motor accidents on the roads. It is for the
      reason
      that the comparative visibility to that through normal/tinted glasses which
      are
      manufactured as such is much lesser and the persons driving at high speed,
      especially on highways, meet with accidents because of use of black filmed
      glasses.

      5. The use of black films also prevents the traffic police from seeing the
      activity in
      the car and communicating with the driver of the vehicle. The petitioner
      also cites
      that the number of fatal accidents of vehicles having black films is much
      higher in
      India than in other parts of the world. The black filmed vehicles have lower
      visibility and therefore, the chances of accident are increased by 18 per
      cent to
      38 per cent due to low visibility. He has also referred to the World Health
      Organization's data, pertaining to deaths caused on roads, which, in India
      have
      crossed that of China, though the latter has more vehicles, population and
      area
      in comparison to India. A device called luxometer can measure the level of
      opaqueness in windows owing to the application of black films but this
      device is a
      scarce resource and is very scantily available with the police personnel in
      India.

      6. The Court can take a judicial notice of the fact that even as per the
      reports,
      maximum crimes are committed in such vehicles and there has been a definite
      rise in the commission of heinous crimes, posing a threat to security of
      individuals and the State, both.

      7. Whatever are the rights of an individual, they are regulated and
      controlled by
      the statutory provisions of the Act and the Rules framed thereunder. The
      citizens
      at large have a right to life i.e. to live with dignity, freedom and safety.
      This right
      emerges from Article 21 of the Constitution of India. As opposed to this
      constitutional mandate, a trivial individual protection or inconvenience, if
      any,
      must yield in favour of the larger public interest.

      8. The petitioner claims to have received various replies from the police
      department of different States like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Delhi and
      Ministry
      of Home Affairs, New Delhi. On the basis of the replies received under the
      provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005, copies of which have been
      annexed to the writ petition, it is averred that these authorities are of
      the
      unanimous opinion that black films should be banned. Black filmed glasses
      help
      in commission of crime as well as hiding the criminals even during vehicle
      checks
      at 'Naka' points. Non-availability of electronic devices to measure
      violations and
      lack of police force to enforce the Rules are also apparent from these
      replies.
      The petitioner also states that the use of black films is not prevalent in
      developed
      and/or developing countries all over the world. In fact, in some of the
      countries, it
      is specifically banned. In Afghanistan, Belarus, Nigeria, Uganda and even in
      Pakistan, use of black films on the vehicle glasses is banned. Use of black
      films
      is not prevalent in United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany and
      other countries as well.

      9. In order to examine the merits of the prayers made by the petitioner in
      the
      present application, it will be necessary for us to refer to the relevant
      laws.

      10. The Motor Vehicle Act, 1939 was enacted to consolidate and amend the
      laws
      relating to motor vehicles. This Act was subjected to various amendments.
      Finally, the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (for short 'the Act') was enacted,
      inter alia,
      with the object and reason being, to provide for quality standards for
      pollution
      control devices, provisions for issuing fitness certificate of the vehicle
      and
      effective ways of tracking down traffic offenders. Section 190 of the Act
      provides
      that any person who drives or causes or allows to be driven in any public
      place a
      motor vehicle or a trailer which has any defect, or violates the standards
      prescribed in relation to road safety, or violates the provisions of the Act
      or the
      Rules made therein, is punishable as per the provisions of the Act. In other
      words, alteration to the conditions of the vehicle in a manner contravening
      the
      Act is not permissible in law. Section 52 of the Act declares that no owner
      of a
      motor vehicle shall so alter the vehicle that the particulars contained in
      the
      certificate of registration are at variance with those originally specified
      by the
      manufacturer. However, certain changes are permissible in terms of the
      proviso
      to this Section and that too with the approval of the Central
      Government/competent authority. In terms of Section 53 of the Act, if any
      registering authority or other prescribed authority has reason to believe
      that any
      motor vehicle within its jurisdiction is in such a condition that its use in
      a public
      place would constitute a danger to the public, or that it fails to comply
      with the
      requirements of the Act or the Rules made thereunder, whether due to
      alteration
      of vehicle violative of Section 52 of the Act or otherwise, the Authority
      may, after
      giving opportunity of hearing, suspend the registration certificate for the
      period
      required for rectification of such defect, and if the defect is still not
      removed, for
      cancellation of registration. In exercise of its power, under various
      provisions of
      the Act, the Central Government has framed the Rules. Chapter V of the Rules
      deals with construction, equipment and maintenance of motor vehicles. Rule
      92
      mandates that no person shall use or cause or allow to be used in any public
      place any motor vehicle which does not comply with the provisions of this
      Chapter. There are different Rules which deals with various aspects of
      construction and maintenance of vehicles including lights, brakes, gears and
      other aspects including overall dimensions of the vehicles. Rule 100 of the
      Rules
      concerns itself with the glass of windscreen and VLT of light of such glass
      windscreen. It specifically provides for fixation of glasses made of
      laminated
      safety glass conforming to Indian standards IS: 2553-Part 2 - 1992 and even
      for
      the kind of windscreen wipers required to be fixed on the front screen of
      the
      vehicle. Relevant part of Rule 100, with which we are concerned, reads as
      under:-

      "100. Safety glass.-

      (1) The glass of windscreens and the windows of every
      motor vehicle 188[other than agricultural tractors] shall be of safety
      glass:
      Provided that in the case of three-wheelers and vehicles with hood and side
      covers, the windows may be of 189[acrylic or plastic transparent sheet.]
      Explanation.-For the purpose of this rule,-

      (i) "safety glass" means glass
      conforming to the specifications of the Bureau of Indian Standards or any
      International Standards and so manufactured or treated that if fractured, it
      does
      not fly or break into fragments capable of causing severe cuts;
      (ii) any windscreen or window at the front of the vehicle, the inner surface
      of
      which is at an angle more than thirty degrees to the longitudinal axis of
      the
      vehicle shall be deemed to face to the front.

      [(2) 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 [IS: 2553- Part 2-1992];

      (3) The glass of the front windscreen of every motor vehicle [other than two
      wheelers and agricultural tractors] manufactured after three years from the
      coming into force of the Central Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Rules, 1993
      shall
      be made of laminated safety glass:
      Provided that on and from three months after the commencement of the Central
      Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Rules, 1999, the glass of the front windscreen of
      every motor vehicle other than twoPage9 wheelers and agricultural tractors
      shall
      be made of laminated safety glass conforming to the Indian Standards IS:
      2553
      -Part 2-1992.

      Explanation.-For the purpose of these sub-rules "laminated safety glass"
      shall
      mean two or more pieces of glass held together by an intervening layer or
      layers
      of plastic materials. The laminated safety glass will crack and break under
      sufficient impact, but the pieces of the glass tend to adhere to the plastic
      material
      and do not fly, and if a hole is produced, the edges would be less jagged
      than
      they would be in the case of an ordinary glass."

      11. From the above provisions, it is clear that the Rules deal with every
      minute
      detail of construction and maintenance of a vehicle. In other words, the
      standards, sizes and specifications which the manufacturer of a vehicle is
      required to adhere to while manufacturing the vehicle are exhaustively dealt
      with
      under the Rules. What is permitted has been specifically provided for and
      what
      has not been specifically stated would obviously be deemed to have been
      excluded from these Rules. It would neither be permissible nor possible for
      the
      Court to read into these statutory provisions, what is not specifically
      provided for.
      These are the specifications which are in consonance with the prescribed IS
      No.
      2553-Part 2 of 1992 and nothing is ambiguous or uncertain. Let us take a few
      examples. Rule 104 requires that every motor vehicle, other than three
      wheelers
      and motor cycles shall be fitted with two red reflectors, one each on both
      sides at
      their rear. Every motor cycle, shall be fitted with at least one red
      reflector at the
      rear. Rule 104A, provides that two white reflex in the front of the vehicle
      on each
      side and visible to on-coming vehicles from the front at night. Rule 106
      deals with
      deflections of lights and requires that no lamp showing a light to the front
      shall be
      used on any motor vehicle including construction equipment vehicle unless
      such
      lamp is so constructed, fitted and maintained that the beam of light emitted
      therefrom is permanently deflected downwards to such an extent that it is
      not
      capable of dazzling any person whose eye position is at a distance of 8
      metres
      from the front of lamp etc. Rules 119 and 120 specify the kind, size and
      manner
      in which the horn and silencer are to be fixed in a vehicle.

      12. These provisions demonstrate the extent of minuteness in the Rules and
      the
      efforts of the framers to ensure, not only the appropriate manner of
      construction
      and maintenance of vehicle, but also the safety of other users of the road.

      13. Rule 100 provides for glass of windscreen and windows of every motor
      vehicle. The glass used has to be 'safety glass'. Then it provides for the
      inner
      surface angle on the windscreen. Rule 100 (2) provides 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 VLT is not less than 70 per cent and on
      side
      windows not less than 50 per cent and would conform to Indian Standards [IS:
      2553-Part2-1992].

      14. The said IS, under clause 5.1.7, deals with VLT standards and it
      provides for
      the same percentage of VLT through the safety glass, as referred to in Rule
      100(2) itself.

      15. Having dealt with the relevant provisions of law, we may also refer to a
      statistical fact that the number of violators of Rule 100 has gone up from
      110 in
      the year 2008 to 1234 in the year 2010, in Delhi alone. This itself shows an
      increasing trend of offenders in this regard.

      16. In face of the language of the Rule, we cannot grant the petitioner the
      relief
      prayed for, that there should be 100 per cent VLT. This Court cannot issue
      directions that vehicles should have glasses with 100 per cent VLT. Rule 100
      of
      the Rules is a valid piece of legislation and is on the statute book. Once
      such
      provision exists, this Court cannot issue directions contrary to the
      provision of
      law. Thus, we decline to grant this prayer to the petitioner.

      17. However, the prayer relating to issuance of directions prohibiting use
      of black
      films on the glasses of vehicles certainly has merit. On the plain reading
      of the
      Rule, it is clear that car must have safety glass having VLT at the time of
      manufacturing 70 per cent for windscreen and 50 per cent for side windows.
      It
      should be so maintained in that condition thereafter. In other words, the
      Rule not
      impliedly, but specifically, prohibits alteration of such VLT by any means
      subsequent to its manufacturing. How and what will be a "safety glass" has
      been
      explained in Explanation to Rule 100. The Explanation while defining
      'laminated
      safety glass' makes it clear that two or more pieces of glass held together
      by an
      intervening layers of plastic materials so that the glass is held together
      in the
      event of impact. The Rule and the explanation do not contemplate or give any
      leeway to the manufacturer or user of the vehicle to, in any manner, tamper
      with
      the VLT. The Rule and the IS only specify the VLT of the glass itself.

      18. Two scenarios must be examined. First, 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.

      19. The legislative intent attaching due significance to the 'public safety'
      is
      evident from the object and reasons of the Act, the provisions of the Act
      and
      more particularly, the Rules framed thereunder. Even if we assume, for the
      sake
      of argument, that Rule 100 is capable of any interpretation, then this Court
      should give it an interpretation which would serve the legislative intent
      and the
      object of framing such rules, in preference to one which would frustrate the
      very
      purpose of enacting the Rules as well as undermining the public safety and
      interest. Use of these black films have been proved to be criminal's
      paradise and
      a social evil. The petitioner has rightly brought on record the unanimous
      view of
      various police authorities right from the States of Calcutta, Tamil Nadu and
      Delhi
      to the Ministry of Home Affairs that use of black films on vehicles has
      jeopardized
      the security and safety interests of the State and public at large. This
      certainly
      helps the criminals to escape from the eyes of the police and aids in
      commission
      of heinous crimes like sexual assault on women, robberies, kidnapping, etc.
      If
      these crimes can be reduced by enforcing the prohibition of law, it would
      further
      the cause of Rule of Law and Public Interest as well.

      20. This Court in the case of Hira Tikoo v. Union Territory of Chandigarh
      [(2004)
      6 SCC 765], while dealing with the provisions of town planning and the land
      allotted to the allottees, upon which the allotees had made full payment,
      held that
      such allotment was found to be contravening other statutory provisions and
      the
      allotted area was situated under the reserved forest land and land in
      periphery of
      900 meters of Air Force Base. The Court held that there was no vested right
      and
      public welfare should prevail as the highest law. Thus, this Court, while
      relying
      upon the maxim "salus populi est suprema lex", modified the order of the
      High
      Court holding that the allottees had no vested right and the land forming
      part of
      the forest area could not be taken away for other purposes. Reference can
      also
      be made to the judgment of this Court in Friends Colony Development
      Committee v. State of Orissa [AIR 2005 SC 1], where this Court, while
      referring
      to construction activity violative of the regulations and control orders,
      held that
      the regulations made under Orissa Development Authorities Act, 1982 may
      meddle with private rights but still they cannot be termed arbitrary or
      unreasonable. The private interest would stand subordinate to public good.

      21. In the present case as well, even if some individual interests are
      likely to
      suffer, such individual or private interests must give in to the larger
      public
      interest. It is the duty of all citizens to comply with the law. The Rules
      are
      mandatory and nobody has the authority in law to mould these rules for the
      purposes of convenience or luxury and certainly not for crime. We may also
      note
      that a Bench of this Court, vide its Order dated 15th December, 1998 in
      Civil
      Appeal No. 3700 of 1999 titled Chandigarh Administration and Others v. Namit
      Kumar & Ors., had permitted the use of 'light coloured tinted glasses' only
      while
      specifically disapproving use of films on the vehicles. Subsequently, in the
      same
      case, but on a different date, another Bench of this Court vide its order
      reported
      at [(2004) 8 SCC 446] made a direction that mandate of sub-Rule (2) of Rule
      100
      shall be kept in mind while dealing with such cases.

      22. Rightly so, none of the orders of this Court have permitted use of black
      films.
      Rule 100(2) specifies the VLT percentage of the glasses at the time of
      manufacture and to be so maintained even thereafter. In Europe, Regulation
      No.
      43 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UN/ECE) and
      in Britain, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, 1986,
      respectively, refer to the International Standard ISO 3538 on this issue,
      providing
      for VLT percentage of 70 and 75 per cent respectively.

      23. 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 per cent and 50 per cent 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.

      24. 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 that such person has been awarded by
      the competent authority. The appropriate government is free to make any
      regulations that it may consider appropriate in this regard.

      25. The competent officer of the traffic police or any other authorized
      person shall
      challan such vehicles for violating Rules 92 and 100 of the Rules with
      effect from
      the specified date and thereupon shall also remove the black films from the
      offending vehicles.

      26. The manufacturer of the vehicle may manufacture the vehicles with tinted
      glasses which have Visual Light Transmission (VLT) of safety glasses
      windscreen (front and rear) as 70 per cent VLT and side glasses as 40 per
      cent
      VLT, respectively. No black film or any other material can be pasted on the
      windscreens and side glasses of a vehicle.

      27. For the reasons afore-stated, we prohibit the use of black films of any
      VLT
      percentage or any other material upon the safety glasses, windscreens (front
      and
      rear) and side glasses of all vehicles throughout the country. The Home
      Secretary, Director General/Commissioner of Police of the respective
      States/Centre shall ensure compliance with this direction. The directions
      contained in this judgment shall become operative and enforceable with
      effect
      from 4th May, 2012. 28. With the above directions, we partially allow this
      writ
      petition and prohibit use of black films of any percentage VLT upon the
      safety
      glasses, windscreens (front and rear) and side glasses. However, there shall
      be
      no order as to costs.

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