The People’s Union for Civil Liberties on Saturday demanded repeal of a controversial ordinance which has made public servants immune against investigation and barred the media from disclosing their names until prior sanction is granted for their prosecution. The PUCL has also decided to challenge the ordinance in the Rajasthan High Court.The ordinance, promulgated on September 6, attempts to silence the media and prevent the judiciary from exercising its function of setting the criminal law in motion. “It’s alarming that the intention was to prevent at the very threshold any possibility of investigation being ordered by a magistrate when the evidence was prima facie brought before the court, PUCL State president Kavita Srivastava said.Addressing a press conference here, PUCL national vice-president Radha Kant Saxena said the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Penal Code brought through the ordinance went against the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lalita Kumari’s case, 2014. The judgment had dealt with both cognisable and non-cognisable offences committed by public servants.The apex court’s Constitution Bench had held that an FIR has to be lodged and investigation initiated by the police officer on the complaint about a cognisable offence. In the cases of non-cognisable offences, the investigating officer is empowered to initiate a preliminary enquiry and seek the court’s direction to obtain sanction for prosecution.Mr. Saxena said the ordinance was meant to neutralise the Supreme Court’s ruling as well as the state government’s own circular of 2015 by removing the power of police to initiate even a preliminary enquiry. “Why has the ordinance made provisions to keep everything under wraps and equated the public servants with victims of crimes such as rape in order to keep their identity discreet?” he asked.The amendments, he said, were superfluous and unnecessary as Section 197 of Cr.P.C. already provides protection to public servants by making it mandatory for a court to take cognisance against them after getting the government’s sanction. Instead of cognisance, the amendment refers to the word “investigate”.The PUCL said the ordinance would make it impossible for the public to make complaints against and bring to justice not only the corrupt government officials but also those involved in the offences such as custodial death, firing on crowd, torture of innocent people and violation of human rights. “Is it the intent of the ordinance to shield guilty officers in the run up to the 2018 Assembly elections?” asked Ms. Srivastava.While pointing out that no pre-legislative consultation was carried out before promulgating the ordinance and its information was suppressed, the PUCL demanded that the ordinance should not be placed in the Assembly session beginning on Monday for replacing it with a bill.