By on May 8, 2012

India is a country with absolute imbalance as far as policies and regulations go. Earlier this year, the Indian Government abruptly increased excise duty on cars by 2-5%. This increase came at a time when the automobile sector was already facing a slow down. Soon later, one of the states increased local taxes and registration charges. Now to make matters worse, the Supreme Court (the highest judicial forum of India) has abruptly banned all kinds of sun control films on cars (with effect from 19th May 2012).

The alleged reason for this ban is to curb crimes in the country. The court feels that no sun film will result in no cover for the criminal. This ban has resulted in the shut down of the sun control film industry over night. The industry  has players such as 3M, Lumar, Vkool, Garware, etc. People with a Z or Z+ security rating  (read politicians, many of which had been declared as criminals by the courts) can continue to use sun films with heavy tint. That, however, is not enough to sustain a heretofore booming industry.

All car owners will have to remove the sun control films immediately. Repeated offenses will lead to seizure of the driving license. Not only will this result in increase in bribes and huge loss of employment, it will also cause wastage of already installed films. India being a tropical climate really needs sun control films on cars. With temperatures soaring between 30-50 degrees Celsius in summers, I have noticed a far cooler car and better efficiency with sun film installed.

Just a few months back, I installed the top of the line 3M sun control film on my Suzuki Swift. This film cuts down 99% of UV rays and has been recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. It doesn’t come cheap at a shade above $500 and has a 5-year warranty. I guess I will park my car until India’s government gets enlightened. What would you have done?

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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39 Comments on “Sun Films Illegal In India...”


  • avatar

    What is the precise regulation? The last two cars I owned came from the factory with a 5% tinted glass on all windows. It’s not a film. Busting those windows out would be expensive. And in California they were talking about requiring a heavier, reflective tint to reduce fuel losses for air conditioning.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Political assassinations are grossly underrated.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    Would you be able to get away with using one of the 3M products (such as the 3M Ceramic series) that maintains the original appearance, but still blocks UV and IR?

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Stupid knee jerk reaction by politicians that can point to this and say look we are doing something about the problem.

    Instead look for a rise in windowless vans for the criminals. Or they will get waivers/whatever so they can use it.

    Window films reduce AC use which reduces energy use, and won’t that save India more $$$ in the long run than the number of people using this to escape criminal prosecution? Too often politicians seem unable to reason and just past regulations without thinking.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Looking at the photo, I think I see someone applying tint film to the windshield! That should be prohibited, for obvious reasons. I’m also very opposed to tint on front windows, because I want to see other drivers at intersections and see where they’re looking. Cops would also agree, you’d think, since they could get blown away by an unseen gun behind a tinted window.

    I’d like some tint on my rear window, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Why stop there? I think you should be required to have mesh or transparent pockets. Unseen guns and all that.

      Tint discourages smash and grabs. Tint keeps the car cooler and is easier on the eyes than sunglasses. Ever tried to use a laptop in the car?

      If you need to make eye contact with other drivers to make it through an intersection you’re doing it wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        A laptop in a car???

        Being able to see the other driver is important, especially when turning at intersections. If someone is trying to wave me on, for example, it helps to be able to see whether the other person is actually letting me go or is simply being inattentive (e.g. texting, or reading a laptop…)

        While it’s obvious that you like heavy tinting, trying to rationalize away good reasons for minimizing it in places such as the front windshield does not help your case.

      • 0 avatar
        another_pleb

        “If you need to make eye contact with other drivers to make it through an intersection you’re doing it wrong.”

        Sorry to get slightly off-topic here, but that statement is utter balderdash; making eye-contact and reading body language of other people and vehicles are key skills that a driver needs to develop so he can correctly judge how to manoeuver in hazardous situations such as intersections.

        Rules which would allow the driver an adequate amount of visibility such as a sensible lower-limit on the transparency of windscreen, rear-window and front-side windows would improve this. I agree, however, that a blanket ban on all window tinting products is a rather foolish over-reaction by the court in this instance.

      • 0 avatar

        To clear the air, the film being applied above was Government approved and one can clearly see others and vice versa.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      In Venezuela windscreen tint is common, it’s not as dark as the lateral however.

      I’m not going into the cops “issue” because that’s a hot matter back there.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      There are many more types of window film that do not obscure visibility to the point that you can’t see people or objects, yet still eliminate UV and radient heating of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Slab

      I live in a similar climate (Las Vegas) and we’ve had after-market tint for decades. I’ve never had a problem seeing another driver. The full-on “limousine” tint is not allowed on the driver or front passenger windows, but they’re still tinted to a degree.

      FWIW, I don’t think the person in the photo is applying film to the windshield. The film goes on the inside.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    “the Supreme Court (the highest judicial forum of India) has abruptly banned…”

    Please excuse my ignorance of Indian government, but how does a court legislate ? Was the law already on the books and they just declared it valid ?

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Dup post- sorry

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    The problem with this ruling is that the ‘wise’ people on their supreme court (and ours also) have exponentially more power than wisdom and knowledge, and not the necessary awareness of potential unintended consequences on a society the size of India (or ours)..Example- strip searches okayed for any and all arrests for the minorest of misdemeanors. Rulings like that may bite them in the ass one day.

  • avatar
    niky

    If the ruling were for windshields only, there’d be a point. They had to issue a similar ruling here banning mirror tint on the front windshield… one which is poorly policed. But all windows? That’s over-reacting.

    Sounds a lot like a local law banning full-face helmets in one particular city… simply to prevent crime. When all they have to do is ban tint on those same helmets…

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      The question here is: how is law enforced in India?

      Is it applied only to the suckers or to everyone?

      Is it actually enforced?

      • 0 avatar
        JD-Tippit

        An even better question is the measure of the level of tint and how it will be assessed by a road authority in real world conditions.

        I can’t imagine any manufacturer not tinting the windows on vehicles. I guess this article isn’t complete, what the government probably does not want is fully blacked out windows.

      • 0 avatar

        Athos, it is enforced on the common man and if you are unlucky, you will face the wrath.

        JD-Tippit, manufacturers tint glasses but that is allowed. The Government had a set of approved tint level on films but has now altogether banned them.

  • avatar
    JD-Tippit

    That is strange. An outright ban, but does it make allowances for manufacturer installed tint?

    If I lived in Bundia, I would at least expect some kind of opacity rating from the government. A total ban and the propensity of their motorists to spend long hours in the car on clogged roadways sounds quite discomforting.

    Oh well, that’s the price you pay. Figure having a car where there are no real roads and most get about their business in bikes seems like an honest trade-off.

  • avatar
    cannyfriar

    Just before I moved to Germany in 2007, there was uproar in Telford (UK), of all places, because some politician battled to get tinted windows banned from taxis. He used the same spurious reason, to battle crime. Trouble was, he set a tint limit that was so high, taxi drivers could no longer use cars with a standard tint in their factory windows.

    Don Quixote and his windmills spring to mind.

  • avatar
    vww12

    Lovely that politicians exempted themselves from the ban.

    Is this like Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, saying climate change is a national security issue, but flying home to California every weekend on a government Gulfstream 550 executive jet? Each such round trip releases about 50,000 lbs of CO2, or what the average U.S. household burns in a year.

  • avatar
    redav

    “What would you have done?”

    Emmigrated from India – not because of the window film issue, but because of the “absolute imbalance as far as policies and regulations go.” Just like how this window film law can destroy someone’s business, sooner or later the same thing could happen to any random person. It’s not worth it to live there.

    • 0 avatar
      JD-Tippit

      ” It’s not worth it to live there. ”

      You must be living a very graceful and privileged life in the south of France, then?

      Although, your point is taken about governments trampling on businesses without adequately exploring the repercussions.

    • 0 avatar

      Redav, not 1 billion people can emigrate from India ;(

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        And so long as they can’t, and so long as no one is effective (or interested) in changing the system from the inside, it won’t change.

        It Free Markets 101. If you can’t take your business elsewhere, no one is motivated to improve their product. It seems likely, though, that even with massive brain drain and the stunted industry that results, there will always be enough of the low-caste to be oppressed and generate wealth for the corrupt at the top.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    60C = 140F…I’m calling BS

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This strikes me as truly bizarre, or just the creation of yet another opportunity for official graft (i.e. “waivers” of the requirement purchased with an agreed-upon sum between the enforcing official and the enforcee).

    I could see an argument that excessive window tint compromises night vision, which presumably is why in the US on rear windows seem to be heavily tinted.

    But to prevent crime? GMAFB!

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The same in Mexico….Mexico has a subtropical/tropical climate very similar to India (as a matter of fact, they lie at roughly the same latitude).

    The states and cities where drug trafficking has hit the heaviest, have also passed laws agains window film. Very expensive fines if one does not comply.

    However, one can still see sparkling-new Escalades and Suburbans with expensive wheels and dark-as-hell tinting, running red lights and otherwise driving very aggresively.

    Do they ever get stopped by the police? Can you spell chicken?

  • avatar

    This is exactly like the American drinking age being high because they know you’ll drink before it.

    May also increase the price of sun film.

  • avatar
    afflo

    “With temperatures soaring between 30-60 degrees Celsius in summers”

    Um… WHat? 30-35 is a hot summer day, 60 has never been recorded on earth.

  • avatar

    Just FYI, all current auto glass already nearly completely blocks UV. Adding film/tint won’t make an appreciable difference.

    Bummer about the crackdown, though.

    As others have stated, I’m curious about how a the SC can proactively outlaw something.

    Over here, someone has to make a law or bring a suit over an issue. Was there a case brought up?


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