I am Babar Sattar


His loyalty swears allegiance to the empire of law, not to the seat of any judge

I have been raised on the idea that a man keeps his distance from friends when they are in high places, and never leaves the side of a friend who has been knocked to his knees by life. In fidelity to this ethos, the following is a howl from my wounded heart, in defence of my friend, Babar Sattar, whose intellect, audacity and honesty, has cost him the wrath of the mighty and the powerful!

Let me emphasize at the very outset that I agree with, and endorse, every word written by Babar in his op-ed piece, “Hubris as Justice?”. And, as we customarily state in legal pleadings, ‘let the contents of that piece be read as an integral part of this article’. By that virtue, the fundamental principles of consistency and equality (in law) mandate that whatever is done unto him, be also done unto me. Anything else, in constitutional jargon, will be a violation of Article 25 of the Constitution (discrimination).

Let me begin with a slight background for those who are unaware of all that has transpired: On Tuesday, Babar wrote an op-ed piece, which was critical of some of the jurisprudential trends emanating from the honorable Supreme Court. The article was published in Dawn, since The News International refused to publish this piece (as Babar’s weekly column), alleging that it was ‘unbalanced’. That same day, the contents of this article were highlighted (with praise!) in a programme on Geo TV. Thereafter, almost instantly, the content and context of this article became the topic of discussion across all tele- and social-media waves. As expected, soon enough, this piece caught the attention of the honorable judges of the apex court, who viewed it as a tremendous act of insubordination (by a former of the legal fraternity). Immediately, contempt notices were issued to the publisher as well as the media-giant that telecasted Babar’s opinion. The matter, soon enough, will be taken up for ‘dispassionate’ adjudication.

To assess the degree of Babar’s ‘contempt’ (the factum of which seems to already be clear to the honorable Court), it is important to take a closer look at the contents of his article. The piece, written in bold prose, starts by disagreeing with the judgment of the honorable Supreme Court in the matter pertaining to the presidential election schedule, and then goes on to identify four distinct themes that have emerged in the jurisprudence of apex court since the restoration of judges. First, Babar’s piece points out, is the manifest streak of the court, having been restored through a mass-movement, to view itself as an institution that imbibes the will of the people and, as a consequence, sometimes surrenders to the temptation of appeasing the ‘populist’ sentiment. Second, the article highlights, is the trend of the Court (in comment and in judgment) to hoist the flag of morality as the new doctrine of social reform. Third, the piece points out, is the apex court’s symbiotic “demand-supply” relationship with the media, where both feed off each other, generating sensational headlines as well as suo-motu action. And fourth, as a consequence of media-propelled suo-motu notices in the service of ‘moral’ and ‘populist’ causes, the honorable court intervenes in the domain of other institutions, dispensing with the slight inconvenience of impartial adjudication and due process of law that stands in its path. To this end, Babar points out that once a populist suo-motu has been taken for some alleged ‘mega-scam’ (based on newspaper reports), the honorable court seems only to be interested in arrests and recoveries, instead of first determining culpability and guilt. And this approach of the court leaves no room for other institutions (including investigation and prosecution) to afford fair trial to the individuals involved.

In making his point, Babar points towards the recent proceedings in the EOBI case. True as it may be, quoting this example, in retrospect, was perhaps Babar’s folly. As it turns out, some time back (not presently) Babar served as a lawyer (not the legal advisor) to the EOBI. Taking this as prima facie motive, the honorable judges of the apex court, without affording Babar an opportunity of being heard, insinuated that Babar’s critique of the court is somehow related to the fact that the court has taken up the matter of EOBI. And surprising as it may be, this character assassination (for the lack of a better phrase) has been the honorable court’s retort to a young man who has dared to fall out of line. And, as if on cue, one particular media channel has advanced the court’s crusade in the days that followed.

Who, with dispassionate intellect, can claim that Babar’s conclusions are without merit? Is it not true that countless individuals, including several legal experts, disagree with the standard of justice being meted out by the court? Have the contours of Article 184 not been expanded to swallow other institutions? Can the NAB and FIA officials dare submit a report that is not to the liking of the bench? Did the line between the accused and the guilty not blur during the Haj Scam, Ephedrine case, or the NICL scam? Was the same standard applied when the accused was a certain doctor of judicial lineage? Can we really deny that the court has eyed populist sentiment, and invited media-headlines, as a regular feature of justice? Were journalists a permanent fixture of the courtrooms before? Has the phrase “we appeal to the chief justice” not become a regular part of our news-feed diction?

Perhaps Babar should have started his article with Iqbal’s line “Khugar-e-hamd se thora sa gila bhi sun le” from his timeless poem Shikwa. It is unfortunate that, in the ongoing character-assassination of Babar (in the courtroom as well as on one particular TV channel), everyone has forgotten that Babar, not so long ago, was the staunchest supporter of the lawyer’s movement and the rule of law. And perhaps this exactly is Babar’s fault: he has been a staunch supporter of ‘Rule of Law’ – and not the ‘Rule of Judges’. His writing prowess and intellect has always defended the idea of constitutionalism – not the phrase of pater familias. And his loyalty swears allegiance to the empire of law. Not to the seat of any judge.

And if this is the ‘crime’ for which he is being punished, then let us all partake in the noble honor of being called ‘guilty’ of the same. If the writings of a thirty-something-year-old can strike that secret chord of truth that invites the wrath of the pater familias, then let us all reach for our pens. If speaking truth to power is an act of contempt, then let us all drink from this fountain of insurrection. Let us join, in spirit, with the countless poets, scholars and heretics, throughout the checkered history of our nation, who have been incarcerated for voicing their conscience.

Our solitary voices are often drowned in the chaos of society. Our individual frustrations often get buried under the weight of our helplessness. But our combined voice, our mutual faith, our shared dreams, and our collective passions are more powerful than any threat, in law or in fact, that can be hurled at us. And for this reason, above all, if any part of Babar’s voice has resonated with you, it is time to step forth and be counted.

And in this spirit, let it be known to all that today, for this brief moment in time, I am Babar Sattar.

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. He can be reached at: [email protected]


    • Unfortunately this judge lacks the one important christian virtue; Resignation! He says he is a Muslim!

    • a worth reading article. lawyers should write more about it to enlighten the common people. the judges in court act as gods on earth they should be brought under control

  1. I am also an other Babar Satter, I am now 67 year old and have seen what Judges has been doing with my country, first they have been becoming the partner of Military Dictators and have selling the justices by accepting the bribes ,the present judiciary were restored by lawyers movement and people support forgetting that CJP was also a PCO judge. Where are those who were leaders of lawyers movement, why they are now not launching a movement aganist those who are not upholding the Rule of Law but want to use the law for their personal glory/ PPP was right that present CJP is a politician not a Qazi i Aala.

  2. i will really feel more adamant to be an accomplice in this aforementioned tangible context, which seems to be castigated by this aristocrat Apex court.. the participation of the court is causing heaps of fear amongst common people…

  3. There is a concept in law by the name of conflict of interest . Babar sattar is working for EOBI . How come in his writing he can criticize supreme court if they are hearing a case regarding EOBI scam.. few quarters are criticizing judiciary for their personal goals. There is no doubt that supreme court is pro active in Using Article 184 / , but the main reason is the vacuum created by poor governance and government failure to protect the basic fundamental rights. if the supreme court is protecting the money of the poor people of Pakistan we should support them. This criticism is highly deplorable.

    • Jawad, I suggest you re-read the article once again before making such pointless remarks. Linking the EOBI case being heard in court with Babar Sattar (who was once only professionally involved with EOBI) means you little about how the legal system works, and instead have voiced what appears to be a personal prejudice.

      • According to Geo, Babar Sattar received millions from EOBI in legal fees, yet failed to disclose this fact in this article criticizing the court (on, among other things, taking up a case against his (former?) client. By the way, since he hasn't come forward and provided details of his association, I am not inclined to give him much benefit of doubt on this.

        On the larger issue, (a) Can anyone point to a case where SC's unjustly convicted anyone? Isn't that the criterion on which court should be judged? (b) Can anyone say with a straight face that NAB, FIA, etc. were all doing their jobs fine before the court started to intervene? Or, that the court's interventions have NOT created at least some sense of accountability?

        I haven't been a fan of excessive 'bayan bazi' from the bench. I have even less patience for pointless contempt proceedings (including against Babar Sattar), but the court's critics have been very dishonest in their conduct and criticism. No wonder they are not finding any traction among the masses.

  4. Excellent piece, this mockery in the name of justice should be stopped this CJ would be remembered as a new low in the checkered history of Pakistan's judicial incompetence…

  5. Excellent write up I appreciate you.. you stand by Baber Sattar … we must not be afraid and shy away from truth… journalist fraternity should come forward and write the truth about bias judiciary.. show these judges the real face… lets see how many contempt these courts can issue… our fear is their power. lets not be afraid of them and plead like Imran

  6. I don't feel qualified to comment but points raised make a lot of sense. I think CJ was given too much "Moral" strength to handle. He has taken SC on a different route, where Hubris as Justice is not unfair assessment.

  7. There are still people around with character and principles Mr Babar Sattar is one such man.But Mr. Saad Rasool you are no less a man.Ah it is such a relief to know there are still such people around.Allah be with you both and keep it up.

  8. Why does an article have to be written to support another article? Cannot the first article stand on its own?

  9. Most beautifully scripted article which is rich in facts and passionate in style. I too stand with Babar Sattar & Imran Khan against the invasion of judicial goons. Courts are now using contempt of court for coercion and bullying.

  10. Is there any thing left to be said about the Judge? This article is self contained and a chargesheet. History will laugh at the lawyers, political parties and civil society for their movement for the restoration of judges if it does not culminate into the restoration of justice. Let us make a start.

  11. Hats off to Saad Rasul for his excellent article in defence of Babar Sattar and in highlighting the lacuna in our present day judicial decisons. I have been an ardent reader and admirer of Babar Sattar and have read his columns in "The News" with great interest as his writings have always been very realistic and relevant to the situation. Its surprizing all those who were supporters and part of the lawyers movement are keeping quiet and not raising their voice against those who they believe are not upholding the Rule of law.

    • Mercenaries Sir, they were and they still are the mercenaries whose objectives are purely personal gains.

  12. I am a young engineer by background and to put it simply i would say that this Cheap Justice has proved even worse than a Dajjal…This one-eyed Dajjal should by drowned in Arabian Sea.

  13. Let us all be clear. Speaking the truth, hearing the truth acting on the truth are anathema in the "Land of the Pure"!! since we, collectively, have brought our Nation to this stage we should be ready to bear the consequences! Babar Sattar keep on writing the truth without any concern for the genetic liars who populate this country!

  14. A brilliant piece. Good to know that such people still exist in our motherland who Dare to Speak the Truth. The Judiciary is truly being controlled by CJ. N he himself is not above board! Come what may, never stop speaking the Truth! ‘Ab is Sheher mein aisay Deewanay aur bhi hain, Jo Sar katwana bhi jaanein, Awaaz uthana bhi jaanein!’

    • Which CJ are we talking about ? Is it the goon who has retired? Or the new one who is perhaps trying to follow the foot steps of the past one. Another question, what do these judges think of themselves – SAINTS. Well I have yet to see one.

  15. A very good article,and well written.If I know my nephew,his father and grand dad Judge then I know he will stand for the right.Well done Baber,and I hope he will show the judges light!

  16. Great Article Saad,the champions of Lawyers Movement should come forward & do the needful once again by settling the scores. This Judiciary is trulybiased.

  17. The question is about EOBI sixty billion. Talk about the real owners of that money and who is protecting their interest. Court is right in taking action against people this scam possible.
    I ask the legal community to stop behaving like vultures and protect criminals.For some lawyers civil rights of criminal are greater than common folks.

  18. Yes, we all need Dogar court. This court is asserting, trying to enter in dha, secret services, wrong doing of PMs like gillni, pervez ashraf, president zardari, and so on. Now Nawaz sharif too need a dogar court for smooth sailing. So, we all need Dogar court. Waiting for another Dogar. And all will happy like babar sattar, aitzaz, zardari, khosa, faisal raza abidi, malik riaz, mubashir luqman, bbar awan and so on. And now imran khan and naawaz sharif too.

  19. It's great to know that our country has people like Babar Sattar and Saad Rasool who have the intellect and courage to make a clear distinction between right and wrong and can highlight the truth so eloquently.

  20. ITs amazing how Harvard Law school educated lawyers are trying to question the law in an intellectual capacity. Harvard is the crème of law intellectually inquiry in the world… Pointless to be in Pakistan of all the world to question the laws.. Pakistan doesn't have an intellectual inquiry and truthfulness. It's not interested in knowing itself and it itsn't a truthful society at the top. People are in the business of telling comforting lies. to write anything truthful about this nation is to open yourself to criticism in which this lawyer did big time…. What's the point of practicing law there esp. from Harvard???

  21. No intellectual inquiry allowed towards Pakistan law when your job is to intellectually inquire.. Pointless. These intelligent guys are in the wrong nation to practice and extend their intellectualism with their high education.

  22. also anyone with a US Harvard LLM in Pakistan is capable of sitting on their supreme/civil court as a Judge not just an attorney given the level of sophistication in understanding the law and education…

  23. In a democratic system "freedom of expression" is no doubt a fundamental and the speaker should hold on to his right. Moderation however, is also an important ingredient
    in the working of "rule of law" Trying to become apostles of the truth leads to an extreme position which should be avoided. Speak the truth yes but no need to be the last word. As regards IK's facas with the judiciary it can perhaps be ended by changing "sharamnak" to afsosnak then why not

  24. It is, indeed, heartening to note that there are men like Babar Sattar and Saad Rasool. In the legal domain, people like them seem to be the only hope. People and civil society need to stand up against CJ to stop him from making a mockery of Law & Justice. This CJ has caused immense damage to Pakistan. If he wants to try Babar Sattar and Saad Rasool for contempt of court, I also present myself because I fully endorse their views and can provide immense data proving his financial and moral corruption.

  25. The article is written in mere praise of Babar Sattar and omitted to point out contemptuous words used in his article. The Hon'ble court has not issued notice for fair comment rather for contemptuous language for which Babar does not deserve any concession.
    As regards, the judgment of Supreme Court, at least a lawyer like Babar Sattar is supposed to know that wherever any authority exercises his discretion arbitrarily, Supreme Court even the High Court has all powers to intervene. The judgment on presidential election is valid and within jurisdiction.

    For my detailed article on this you may read http://sconpresidentialelection.blogspot.com/

    The movement is made against Supreme Court because it has seized accounts of DHA, because it provides justice to common man, because it puts bureaucracy at task, because it puts Musharraf to trial. People say we request Chief Justice because they have trust. While the so called intellectuals, playing upon technicalities, that too wrongly, wants to prevent fostering of justice and may be supported financially by cult like Ch. Riaz, Musharraf, DHA, political figures.

    May ALLAH save us from this conspiracy and may keep our good office bearers in his protection.

  26. absalutley true.. there should be an end to this judicial maddness. shame on choudry for betraying the lawyers movement and un fact the whole nation

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