Judiciary under question in Pakistan: IHC’s explanation about the Green Card of Justice Babar Sattar raises further questions

Judiciary under question in Pakistan: IHC's explanation about the Green Card of...

Islamabad, Pakistan: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Sunday, April 28, 2024, responded to concerns and observations raised by many including the Pakistan Lawyers Forum about the discrepancies in oversight while inducting Justice Babar Sattar into the higher judiciary. In its statement, IHC said that a “malicious campaign” was being run against Justice Babar Sattar on social media, as part of which confidential information and documents belonging to the judge were leaked online.
Interestingly, the IHC statement confirmed all concerns raised against Justice Sattar. Giving a spin to the issue, it is being highlighted that since Justice Sattar is one of the six IHC judges who have complained of interference in judicial affairs by the country’s intelligence apparatus, therefore a campaign has been launched against him.
Instead of addressing the issue of discrepancies oversight by the IHC while inducting Justice Sattar into the higher judiciary, the IHC is concerned about the appearance of the travel documents of Sattar, his wife, and his children who have been frequently traveling to Western countries. Some circles of lawyers are also accusing the Justice of having foreign properties and hiding assets in both Pakistan and the US. IHC’s statement is silent about the accusations and states:

“As part of the malicious campaign, the confidential information has been posted and reposted on social media, including travel documents of the Hon’ble Judge, his wife, and children”.
ICH said that Justice Babar Sattar has never had any nationality other than that of Pakistan and he worked as a lawyer in New York and was granted a green card, “he left his job in the US in 2005 and returned to Pakistan and lived and worked in Pakistan since then.” IHC also did not mention when he got the Green Card. The court noted that Justice Sattar’s assets in Pakistan and the US were thoroughly scrutinized by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan before his appointment as a judge.
“All real estate assets that he owns are either inherited or were acquired while he was a lawyer. He has acquired no real estate assets since his appointment as a judge,” the statement reads.
Some questions are unanswered including is Sattar’s Green Card still valid. If yes, why did he not surrender his Green Card when he got a higher position in Higher Judiciary?
Pakistan Lawyers Forums raised several questions and statements over the issue and through X-handle it asked:
Why did Justice Babar Sattar not declare his green card in Islamabad High Court records? According to Pakistani law, it is mandatory to declare a Green Card. Now that the Islamabad High Court has recognized his green card, the answer to this question is of utmost importance. Questions are also being raised on the role of Justice Athar Manullah how did he facilitate the green card holder to become a justice? Islamabad High Court has to answer these important questions to save its reputation. Pakistan Lawyers Forum will wait for the answers to these important questions otherwise the next course of action will be announced soon.

   

 


Pakistan is a country where powerful bureaucrats, public servants, and government employees live and get top positions but have assets and social and economic interests in Western countries and many of them are dual nationals of Western countries. Their family members mostly live abroad and visit Pakistan just to meet their relatives while they live, work, study, and do business abroad.
In this particular case, the most sensitive question/allegation is that Justice Babar Sattar did not disclose his Green Card information, and his social, financial, and family interests are linked with the United States.
The top government officials in Pakistan are the core part of Pakistan’s Superclass and being part of this Superclass, the judiciary of Pakistan is under question and that situation is creating unease among members of the higher judiciary.

In Pakistan, almost everybody irrespective of the political and social divides is talking about how Pakistan is owned by only the elite class that is running the country as a corporate entity since the country came into being. The issue of “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” has been an important point of discussion among law practitioners and academia but the Constitution of Pakistan protects the conduct of the judiciary and states that criticizing the judiciary is unlawful. This is one of the reasons that debating the rule of the judiciary is discouraged in Pakistan, resulting in almost no accountability of the judiciary. This is one of the reasons that critical work on this issue is being produced mostly outside of Pakistan by Pakistani academicians living abroad and by foreign writers.

“The Myth of Justice in Pakistan”, authored by Dr Muhammad Bilal who has his LlM and PhD. degrees in Law from the UK indicates that justice in Pakistan has become a myth and an unachievable goal. He believes that there are several reasons for delayed justice including complex procedures, old and ineffective laws, the attitude of judges and lawyers, and the backlog of pending cases in the superior as well as lower judiciary of Pakistan.

Another academic paper written by Hafiz Muhammad Ihsan Zafeer of Shaanxi Normal University China, published in November 2020, titled “Delaying Factors Regarding Civil Justice in Pakistan (Lower Courts)” indicates that because of procedural as well as practical loopholes and existing defective administration of Justice, our Judiciary is not proficient enough in delivering Justice. Because of this, people lost their trust in the Judiciary, and such a situation creates social disorganization.

Dr Bilal is more straight and critical and in his research, he claims that the research of “F.S.Khan,” Pakistani courts require the continuous visits of the suit’s parties, and normally for the decision of any conflict a defendant makes 72 visits to the courts, and a decision of a case costs nearly Rs 0.2 to 0.3 million to such a party. Continuous visits to courts not only cause a financial crisis but can also have a psychological impact on the suit’s parties. Dr Bilal also claims that judges are the backbone of the judiciary and in Pakistan, they have no professional attitude and perform their function only for salary but not for justice.

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