DateLine Wednesday, 28 November 2007

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Bench and Bar pay tribute to seven legal luminaries

The Bench and the Bar paid tribute to seven distinguished members of the Inner Bar at a reference at a special ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court on Friday.

Addressing the gathering including close family members of the late members of the Inner Bar, Attorney General, C.R. de Silva PC said "We are assembled here to pay tribute to the memory of seven legal luminaries who have all adorned the legal firmament of this country with great distinction.

They are former Attorney General K.C. Kamalasabayson, PC, Vernon Wijetunga, QC, T.B. Dissanayake, PC, Paul Perera, PC, Upawansa Yapa, PC, Anil Obeysekera, PC, and Stanley Tillekeratne, PC.

The Attorney General said:

It is with a deep sense of grief that the Bar mourns the death of K.C. Kamalasabayson, PC and former Attorney-General, who was plucked away prematurely by the cold hand of death on August 12, 2007.

Kamalasabayson who was affectionately referred to, as 'Saba', received his early education at St. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia which has produced many illustrious sons of Sri Lanka who have left indelible impressions on the sands of time. He was one amongst these illustrious men.

"Kamalasabayson entered Sri Lanka Law College in 1969 and was enrolled as an advocate of Your Lordship's Court in 1972. He worked in the Chambers of G.F. Sethukavala and Bala Nadarajah.

Kamalasabayson's brother K.C. Kamalanathan was a leading criminal lawyer at that time and the success of his brother at the Bar would no doubt have influenced him to embark on a legal career.

By a sheer dint of hard work and his command of the English language, his knowledge of the law and his winsome ways he won the confidence and the appreciation of the Bench and the Bar as an up and coming member of the legal profession.

His ability and competence were soon recognised by the then Attorney-General, who selected him as a State Counsel in 1974. His career in the Attorney-General's Department, was characterised by commitment and hard work which won him the trust and confidence of his colleagues and the Judges, before whom he appeared. From the very outset, he handled a large volume of civil work.

As a Counsel he was always courteous to the Bench and the Bar. He became one of the leading Counsel in the Attorney General's Department with his thoroughness and the mastery of the law. In 1983, he was promoted Senior State Counsel.

Thereafter, he was elevated to the position of a Deputy Solicitor General. Subsequently, he was appointed Additional Solicitor General and then in 1998, he was appointed Solicitor General.

He was appointed Attorney General in 1999 which post held until his retirement in April this year.

Whilst serving in the Department, he obtained a Masters Degree in Law from the Colombo University in 1994 and another Masters' in Law from the London University in 1995.

Kamalasabayson also served as a lecturer at the Sri Lanka Law College and the Colombo University. Kamalasabayson who was an heir to a rich and full education at St. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia inherited a great value system which his Alma Mater inculcated amongst its students.

Some of the values which have impressed us all was his sense of justice, fairplay, integrity and his desire to treat everybody equally, irrespective of race, religion, caste, creed or social status. He always conducted himself from the sturdy platform of right and wrong.

Kamalasabayson was a great lawyer, a teacher and an administrator and above all he was a great human being.

As a lawyer, he maintained the highest professional standards. Generations of lawyers would be grateful to him for the contribution he had made towards the legal profession. He was indeed a giant of our times - indomitable in courage, steadfast in purpose, total in commitment, clear sighted in vision, irreproachable in character and yet simple in manner.

Vernon Wijetunga, QC received his secondary education at Royal College. He had a distinguished scholastic career in school, winning several prizes including the Donald Obeysekere prize for Ceylon History and the Dadabhoy prize for Natural History.

He entered the University College in Colombo and read English, Latin, History and Geography for his Intermediate Examination in Arts from the London University.

He entered the Sri Lanka Law College and was called to the Bar in March 1943 as an Advocate of Your Lordship's Court.

After serving in the chambers of M.T. de S. Amarasekera K.C. he later "devilled" in the chambers of Sir Ukwatte Jayasundera, Q.C., George Chitty, Q.C., Sam Kadirgamar, Q.C. and C.S. Barr Kumarakulasinghe Q.C.

As a lawyer, Wijetunga was conscientious and hard working, devoting himself to the cause of his clients. Within a few years at the Bar, he built up for himself an extensive civil practice. He handled a large volume of work both in the original and appellate courts.

He was known for his meticulous preparation of cases spending long hours in preparing his briefs, carefully reading every document and analyzing its contents. Wijetunga always maintained a calm and collected composure showing great respect to the Bench and his colleagues of the Bar.

He was a master of the spoken word and was endowed with a resonant voice which helped him to capture the attention of both the Bench and the Bar. He was called to the Inner Bar in 1968 and with his demise the Bar lost the last surviving Queen's Counsel of this country.

Wijetunga did not confine himself only to the legal profession. He was widely read in areas outside the law such as history, geography, natural history and wildlife. He was an active member of the Ceylon Natural History Society and the Wild Life and Nature Protection Society. He was also a President of the Medico Legal Society.

Tikiri Banda Dissanayake, PC born on July 17, 1908 received his secondary education at Dharmaraja College, Kandy and Nalanda College, Colombo. After his secondary education, he entered the Colombo University and obtained a BA degree from the London University in 1930 having read Latin, Sinhala, History and Philosophy.

After graduating Dissanayake spent nearly a decade as a teacher at Nalanda College, Colombo. Thereafter, he entered the Ceylon Law College and was called to the Bar in 1942 as an Advocate of Your Lordships's Court.

He initially worked in the chambers of Sir Lalita Rajapakse, K.C. By a sheer dint of hard work, he built up a large civil practice both in the original courts in Colombo, outstation and the appellate courts. He specialised in the Land Law and Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law. Although he enjoyed a very busy practice, he found the time to contribute to the country's legal literature.

He has authored books on Kandyan Law and Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law, the Civil Procedure Code and the Law of Evidence. Dissanayake also served as a Commissioner of Assize for a short period in 1969-70. T.B. Dissanayake was a great tennis player and he maintained his interest in the game until a few years before his death.

Paul Perera, PC, was born on June 29, 1929 and had his secondary education at Maris Stella College, Negombo. Thereafter, he obtained BA specialising in History from the Colombo University. Having served in the National Archives Department for a few years he entered the Law College.

He was enrolled as an advocate of Your Lordship's Court on April 05, 1960. He worked for sometime as the Chief Legal Officer of the Port (Cargo) Corporation and thereafter he joined the private Bar in 1967.

He worked in the chambers of H.W. Jayewardene, QC, Neville Samarakoon, QC and M. Tiruchelvam, QC. As a lawyer, Perera was conscientious and hardworking, devoting himself to the cause of his client. Within a few years he built for himself an extensive civil practice in the original Courts of this country.

In 1977, Perera was appointed as a Competent Authority of the Times of Ceylon Newspapers and a Director of the Bank of Ceylon. He also served as a Director General (Administration) of the Colombo Economic Commission and played a key role in the establishment of the Free Trade Zone at Biyagama.

Upawansa Yapa born on November 2, 1941 received his secondary education at St. Joseph's College, Bandarawela and the Colombo Nalanda College. While at school, he led the both Sinhala and English debating teams. He entered the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya in 1960 and obtained Bachelor of Arts degree.

In 1965, he joined the Ceylon Law College and was admitted as an advocate of Your Lordship's Court in February, 1969. He joined the Attorney General's Department as a Crown Counsel in 1970 and served in the Department's Criminal Division. Later he rose to the position of Senior State Counsel, Deputy Solicitor General, Additional Solicitor General and finally as the Solicitor General. He was appointed President's Counsel in September 1992.

Yapa has appeared for the State in several important Criminal trials, including Sepala Ekanayake aircraft high jacking case, Kollupitiya Tavern Robbery Case.

Yapa was also functioned as a lecturer and examiner at the Sri Lanka Law College. Amidst his official commitments he found time to co-author a book on specimen pleadings in civil cases.

Yapa's interest was not only confined to the law. He was a lover of music and art. He had a profound knowledge of the Sinhala language and the culture of the Sinhala people.

Yapa was a loving husband and a devoted father. His demise is an irreparable loss, both to his family and to the legal community.

Anil Obeysekere was born on May 18, 1938. He had his early education at S. Thomas Mount Lavinia.

While at school he was a member of the College debating team and was also the Secretary of the English Literary Association.

After completing his secondary education, he entered the Ceylon Law College and was enroled as an Advocate of Your Lordhip's Court in 1962.

It is no surprise that Obeysekere decided to embark on a legal career. He hails from one of the most distinguished legal families in Sri Lanka. His grandfather was the Crown Proctor of the Galle Bar and his father the Late J.E.M. Obeysekere was one of the leading advocate's of his time. In addition, his brother R.I. Obeysekere, P.C., is a very distinguished advocate enjoying a lucrative practice at the Bar.

Obeysekere initially worked in the Chamber of Late Sam Kadirgamar, Q.C. Thorough sheer dedication and hard work he built up a wide practice at the Criminal Bar. He appeared in some of the sensational criminal trials in the country. The CWE robbery case, Kalaththawa Double murder case and the Vicarage Double Murder case are some of the cases in which he appeared for the defence.

Obeysekere was a man of very genial disposition and was liked by both Bench and the Bar. He always maintained calm and collected composure. He is best remembered by the Bar as a competent lawyer with a genial disposition.

He was conferred 'Silk' in 1995. With his appointment as President's Counsel, he along with his elder brother R.I. Obeysekere PC acquired the distinction of becoming the seventh where brothers have taken 'Silk' in this country.

Obeysekere functioned as the Trade Commissioner in Czechoslovakia from 1973-1977. He also served as Chairman of the Petroleum Corporation, Chairman of Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd, and as Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom where he displayed great business acumen and administrative ability.

The Bar mourns the death of this distinguished lawyer and great gentleman. May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

Stanley Tillekaratne, PC was born on August 11, 1928 and had his secondary education at St. Benedict's College, Kotahena and Kalutara Vidyalaya, Kalutara. He joined the University of Ceylon in 1947 and obtained the Bachelor of Arts degree specializing in economics.

He was the President of the University Political Society and was also a member of the University debating team. As a member of the University debating team, he had the distinction of debating against the combined debating team of British Universities which visited this country. In 1951, he entered the Law College and was enroled as an Advocate of Your Lordship's Court in 1959.

Tillekaratne worked in the Chambers of Dr. Colvin R. de Silva and within a short period by a sheer dint of hard work, he was able to build a very successful practice as a Criminal lawyer. Before long he was recognised as a leading trial lawyer in the country.

He had all the attributes of a great lawyer. He was conscientious, hard working, courteous and a master of a spoken word.

 

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