Voters Photo Identity Card (EPIC)

country's democracy may be healthy only when the Parliamentary and State Assembly elections are held in a free and fair manner. The elector should be free to cast his vote in favour of a candidate of his choice. Not only this but also it is the precondition for conduct of clean elections, that a real voter only may exercise his franchise and nobody make a bogus voting in name of other person. This issue from time to time has been discussed in the Parliament, since long and not only that, but in 1958, by passing the 61st amendment in the R.P. Act, 1951, a special provision was made to the effect that a provision shall be made by framing required rules to use Electors’ Photo Identity Cards for the identity of electors with a view to preventing bogus voting during elections.

With a view to implementing this amendment of the R.P. Act, a provision was made under rule 28 of the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960 that the Election Commission is competent to issue elector's photo identity cards to the voters for their identity during the elections and to prevent bogus voting. Thus, inspite of the fact that the issue was under consideration for a long period in the country to prevent bogus voting and issue electors Photo Identity Cards to the voters for their identity and making the constitutional provision, it was not become possible to implement this programme. For the first time, the EPIC scheme was implemented in 1979 during the State Assembly Election in Sikkim State. Thereafter, in 1980 the scheme was state wise implemented in north east States including Assam and Meghalaya.

Thereafter in 1993, the Election Commission decided to issue EPICs to the voters under a nation wide programme and for that a time bound programme was prepared for all States. Almost all the States implemented this programme and some of the States achieved success in a big way. Out of total electors about 52% were issued EPICs in the country up to December 1996. However, seven to eight States have completed the work of issuing EPIC to the electors to the extent beyond 70%. Out of these, 7-8 States in Haryana State about 88% Electors have been issued the EPICs. Due to this the Election Commission issued order during the General Election to parliament, 1969 and the simultaneous Hariyana State assembly elections for producing EPICs by the electors for exercising their right to vote at the polling stations when they come to vote. In case, anybody fails to present the EPIC, he will not be issued the ballot paper and he will not be able to exercise his franchise under conduct of elections Rules, 1961. In Haryana state the Election Commission got good experience and the voters came with their EPICs for voting. Though this was the first instance for using the EPICs at the time of polling, the Election Commission as a special measure permitted the electors to cast their votes, after checking their identity on the basis of documents like, ration card, driving license, electricity bill, passport, the identity cards issued by State or Central Government, Kisan Pothi etc.

The electoral rolls are now computerised and the data of electors is available with us in computers. In the circumstances the Election Commission will be able to carry out the work of issuing EPICs to the electors in a more successfull way. In Gujarat State, about 89% electors were issued EPICs, when General Elections to State Legislative Assembly, 2007 were held.