Overburdened cops choose to look away
Nine years after they were banned, black films are still in use in motor vehicles. But the traffic police say cases have been reduced due to strict enforcement and increased awareness.
According to the Bangalore Traffic Police statistics, a total of 23,183 motor vehicles using black and other films were booked in 2019. A total of 28,197 such cases were reported in 2020. Between January and August 2021, 5,935 cases were booked.
Dr. K. Mohanan Nambiar, a retired Chief Traffic Warden of Bengaluru, informed The Observer: “Due to the Covid pandemic situation, the traffic flow has reduced but the violations continue on account of excess speed, non-wearing of helmets, rough and careless driving, the modification of some of the vehicles and usage of thick black films (totally banned), etc. Implementation of rules and regulations, and traffic education, are required now.”
Ravi, a home guard who works for the Traffic Police, said: “I see 18 to 20 cars with such films every day. 9 to 11 am and 5 to 7 pm is peak hours. There is a lot of traffic already. So we don’t stop cars in this timeframe as it would create traffic jams.’’
However, an officer with the Central sub-division of the Traffic Police said the number of cases has reduced due to awareness and enforcement.
Prakash Vikas, the owner of the Car Jewel Car Accessories shop on Journalist Colony Road, informed The Observer: “We do have black and sun films with all percentages of visibility. Though it is banned in the city, a lot of people come here every day for this work.”
S.K. Javed, another shop owner, shared: “More than 20 people come here every day to add films to their cars. We have sun films of all types. The Visual Light Transmission percentage varies from 50 to 0 percent.” Motorists can avoid being fined by rolling the windows of their cars down when they are in Bengaluru.
The Supreme Court banned the use of films of any VLT percentage on the windscreen and side screens. A 2012 ruling of the court states that the windscreen and side windows should have at least 70 and 40 per cent VLT respectively.
Rajesh (name changed), a real estate agent who has sun film on his car, said that he got it about a year ago from a shop on J.C. Road. There are 30-40 shops on the road that do the work. About 90 percent of people get it done for as it looks good.” The rest get the films for heat resistance.
The Karnataka government’s traffic adviser and infrastructure consultant M.N. Sreehari, said: “Unfortunately, there is still no good equipment available for measuring VLT. The police are busy with other traffic jobs like accidents and other traffic violations because of which they sometimes ignore such vehicles.” Bengaluru has more than 10,000 traffic junctions manned by an inadequate number of personnel. The Police should ask companies to try and manufacture proper equipment to measure the VLT of car glasses.
Avishek Goenka, a social activist, had filed a petition in the apex court in 2011 against the use of glasses with less than 100 per cent VLT on windscreens and windows. The court’s ban came in the wake of a rise in crimes like rape, sexual assault on women, dacoity, and accidents.