Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC)

Introduction
With a view to preventing impersonation and to establish the identity of genuine elector at the time of poll, the election laws have made a provision of Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) under Rule 28 of Registration of Electors Rules, 1960. After several unsuccessful attempts to introduce EPIC in West Bengal, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Nagaland, the Election Commission, in 1986, made a suggestion to the Union Government that the EPIC issued to electors may be made multipurpose to be used as an identification document for other purposes also like for opening of bank / post office accounts, public distribution system, health schemes etc. The proposal was again sent to the government in 1992. While the proposal was under consideration of the Government, the Election Commission issued a notification under Rule 28 quoted above, on 28th August, 1993 stating that no polling at election to the House of People or State Legislative Assemblies shall take place after 1st January, 1995, unless all eligible electors had been supplied with EPIC. Certain State Governments went to the High Courts against the Election Commission’s decision. The matter was agitated before Supreme Court by the Election Commission. The Supreme Court directed the Election Commission not to withhold election on the ground that the State Governments had failed to issue EPIC to electors by the deadline given by the Election Commission. Gradually, the State Governments began to implement the Election Commission’s order and now all the States of the country have issued EPIC to their electors and in majority of the States have achieved target of 100% EPIC coverage.
EPIC is only an identity document and mere holding of an EPIC does not give any individual right to vote. This right is available only to those whose names are found in electoral roll. EPIC only establishes the identity of those whose names are there in the Electoral Roll to ensure that their right to vote is smoothly exercised. EPICs are issued only to the electors enrolled in the general rolls. Service voters and Overseas Indian electors are not issued EPICs.
Rule Position regarding EPIC
Rule 28 of the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960 provides for Identity cards for electors. The rule inter-alia states that –
1. The Election Commission, may, with a view to preventing impersonation of electors and facilitating their identification at the time of poll, by notification in the Official Gazette of the State, direct that the provisions of this rule shall apply to any such constituency or part thereof as may be specified in the notification.
2. The registration officer for such notified constituency shall as soon as may be after the issue of the notification under sub-rule (1), arrange for the issue to every elector an identity card prepared in accordance with the provisions of this rule.
An EPIC once issued to an elector shall remain valid during the lifetime of the elector even if he/she shifts his/her residence.
EPIC shall be prepared only from the electoral roll database. Thus EPIC will only be made after the name of the elector is already included in the concerned part of the electoral roll. Similarly EPIC will only be made after the photograph of the elector has been merged in the electoral roll database. No correction in electoral roll entries is to be done at the time of making of EPIC. If any correction in electoral roll entry is required, it should be done by taking a form-8 for modification of entries in electoral rolls and after following the statutory process. However, minor corrections i.e. transliteration errors or spelling errors may be corrected without insisting for Form-8.
 New EPIC - A new EPIC shall be made without any application from the elector and delivered to the elector free of cost, whenever a name is included in the electoral roll for the first time.
A Unique EPIC Number is allotted to every elector whenever EPIC is issued to an elector for the first time. If replacement EPIC is issued to any elector for any reason, the replacement card will continue to bear the unique number assigned to the elector in the original EPIC i.e. which was made for the elector for the first time. Even when the elector ceases to be enrolled in the Electoral Roll, the aforesaid unique EPIC number will not be allotted to any other elector.
Replacement EPIC
Replacement EPIC will continue to have the EPIC number originally assigned to the elector, when EPIC for the elector was made for the first time. EPIC number assigned once continues for life.
Application for issue of a replacement EPIC for loss of original EPIC will be made to the registration officer in Form-EPIC-1. Facilities for collection of applications in Form-EPIC-1 should be provided in offices of EROs, Voter Registration Centers, Common Service Centers, etc. Form-EPIC-1 should also be available on-line.
 

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