IHC Denounces 'Malicious', 'Contemptuous' Social Media Campaign' Against Justice Babar Sattar

Court says Justice Sattar's green card, and properties in Pakistan and the USA were declared, scrutinised and cleared before appointment as a judge

IHC Denounces 'Malicious', 'Contemptuous' Social Media Campaign' Against Justice Babar Sattar

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has denounced as "malicious" and "contemptuous", a social media campaign whereby private and confidential details of the court's Justice Babar Sattar and his family were published online, including tax returns, property ownership and other personal details.

In a statement, the IHC said that as part of the campaign, confidential travel documents of the judge, his wife and children, accompanied by "untruthful and malignant allegations" had been published online. Details of his properties provided in his tax returns were also published.

The IHC went on to provide certain confirmations about the assets and nationality of Justice Sattar and his family, noting that "as an institution exercising public authority, it remains accountable to the people of Pakistan".

"Justice Babar Sattar has never had any nationality other than that of Pakistan," the IHC asserted, adding that Justice Sattar had studied law at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar before pursuing graduate education at the prestigious Harvard Law School. He then worked as a lawyer with a law firm in New York, during which time he was issued a Permanent Resident Card (also called a Green Card) after being regarded as a "person of extraordinary ability". 

The court said that in 2005, Justice Sattar left his job in the US and returned to Pakistan, and he has lived and worked in Pakistan ever since. It added that, contrary to Justice Sattar, his wife and children are citizens of Pakistan and the US, and they lived in the US until 2021. But they returned to Pakistan after Justice Sattar had been appointed as a judge of IHC. They now live in Islamabad. 

The IHC said that prior to Justice Sattar's appointment as a judge, he had informed the then-chief justice of IHC about his Green Card, nationality of his family and all properties he owned inside and outside Pakistan which  — all properties are also declared in his tax returns, which were scrutinised by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan and IHC said these were acquired prior to his elevation as a judge. He either inherited or acquired these properties while still practising as a lawyer. 

 With regard to Justice Sattar's mother and his law firm, the court said that Justice Sattar's mother owns and operates a school in Rawalpindi. The school was established in 1992, and she is its sole proprietor. Justice Sattar does not own a stake in the school nor is he involved with its management. Before being appointed a judge, the IHC said Justice Sattar's law firm acted as the school's legal adviser and received a retainer for the legal services provided.

The IHC said that Justice Sattar had acquired no real estate assets since his appointment as a judge. "He is not involved with the management of any business entity," the court asserted, adding that as a judge, he has not presided over any cases in which any of his family members have any interest.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain