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Bench, Bar welcome new Appeal Court President, Justices

by Sarath Malalasekera

The Bench and the Bar including Attorney General K. C. Kamalasabeyson, PC and Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Ikram Mohamed PC welcomed the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Andrew M. Somawansa and three new Court of Appeal Judges, Justice W. L. Ranjith Silva, Justice Sisira de Abrew and Justice Eric L. Basnayake at a ceremonial sitting of the Court of Appeal recently.

Associated with the Court of Appeal President Justice Andrew M. Somawansa on the Bench were Justice Jagath Balapatabendi, Justice P. Wijeratne, Justice K. Sripavan, Justice (Ms) Cahandra Ekanayake, Justice S. I. Imam, Justice L.K. Wimalachandra, Justice S. Sriskandarajah, Justice Ranjith Silva, Sisira de Abrew and Eric L. Basnayake.

High Court Judges, Judges of the Colombo District Court, the Colombo Chief Magistrate and Additional Magistrates were accommodated on the dias.

Members of the Official and Unofficial Bar and family members of the four judges were present at the ceremony.

Court of Appeal Registrar Ms. M. M. Jayasekera and Deputy Registrar Sanath Pinnaduwa officiated.

BASL President Ikram Mohamed said:

It gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Bar, to ceremonially welcome Justice Andrew Somawansa as President; and Justice Ranjith Silva, Justice Sisira de Abrew, and Justice Eric Lloyd Basnayake as judges of this court.

Justice Andrew Methison Somawansa, comes from a devoted and respected Christian family in Kurunegala, had primary and secondary education at Trinity College, Kandy, where he excelled in both, curricular and extra curricular activities.

Entered the University of Ceylon, and passed out as a Graduate in Law. Thereafter Your Lordship was called to the Bar as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in the year 1971, worked in the chambers of Mr. A. H. C. de Silva, Queen's Counsel until your Lordship was appointed as a legal assistant to the Supreme Court in 1973, joined the Attorney General's Department as a State Counsel in 1974, served the department for about 5 years where he was recognised as an able state counsel.

Justice Somawansa commenced his judicial career in 1979 as a magistrate in which capacity served in Batticaloa, Dambulla and Anuradhapura; and thereafter as a District Judge in Trincomalee, Kuliyapiitya, Mathugama and Colombo, was appointed a judge of the High Court in 1995, has also functioned as a member of the 3 member High Court Judge Bench, which heard the trial-at-bar cases of

* The rape and murder of Krishanthi Kumaraswami, a student in Jaffna and the

* Abduction and murder of Sadeepa Lakshan.

Justice Somawansa is a holder of Diploma in General Jurisdiction from the University of Nevada, USA. Your Lordship has also participated in numerous international seminars and conferences; and was awarded the 'Swarna Hasthi Pranamaya' award by the Diocese of Kurunegala, for the service rendered to the Diocese.

Justice Somawansa was elected Vice President of the Judicial Service Association of Sri Lanka in the year 2000; and was elected President of the High Court Judges Association of Sri Lanka in 2001, was appointed a Judge of the Court of Appeal in the year 2001.

As a judge of this court, contribution is very well seen from the reported and unreported judgements of this court, which are now cited as binding authorities, has now been appointed as the President, being the senior most judge of this court.

As the President of this court has now assumed a great responsibility to perform, a function which is somewhat different to what your Lordship has hitherto undertaken, wealth of experience as a judge of the original and appellate courts for more than 25 years, intellectual honesty, integrity, and Your Lordships' unruffled judicial temperament, will no doubt assist to discharge onerous duties of this high office to the satisfaction of the Bar as well as the litigants, who come before.

Whilst congratulating on your present appointment as the President of this court, I'll assure that the Bar will extend its fullest support and co-operation in the discharge of your Lordships duties as the President of this Court.

Justice Ranjith Silva, had your education at St. Thomas' Prep School Bandarawela (1956-58), St. Josephs College Bandarawela (1959-61), Badulla Maha Vidyalaya (1962-67), and from 1968 at Alexandra College Colombo.

Justice Ranjith Silva entered Sri Lanka Law College in the year 1971 and was admitted to the Bar on 26/6/1974, functioned as a member of the agricultural tribunal under the Agricultural Productivity Law No. 2 of 1972, and your Lordship also functioned as a one man tribunal for Monaragala under the co-operative commission regulations, commenced your judicial career on 1/3/1980 as Magistrate of Mathugama and thereafter continued to serve as such in Kekirawa and Kegalle before he was promoted as District Judge in 1986.

As a District Judge, served in Polonnaruwa, Bandarawela, Kegalle, Gampaha and Colombo, was promoted as High Court Judge on 1/1/1998, and served as such in Kalutara, Galle and Gampaha.

Justice Ranjith Silva followed a course in General Jurisdiction at the National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada USA and attended training on 'Partnership Building for International Criminal Justice' in Korea in April 2003. Your Lordship also attended the "Short term knowledge-sharing sessions" for the members of the Sri Lankan judiciary in September 2004, held at the City University of Hong Kong.

After 25 years of service as a judicial officer, has now assumed office as a judge of this court, shouldering a greater responsibility than ever before.

Justice Ranjith Silva's wide and varied experience as counsel and as judicial officer, will no doubt help to discharge the onerous functions of this high office to the satisfaction of all concerned." I assure the fullest support and cooperation of the Bar in the discharge of Your Lordship's functions as a Judge of this Court and I congratulate on behalf of the Bar, on your appointment to this court.

Justice Kulahath Sisira Jayawilal De Abrew hails from a respectable Buddhist family from Ratmalana had his early education at Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda joined the Law College in the year 1978, where passed the preliminary and final year examinations with honours, and was the recipient of prizes for legal history, criminal procedure and industrial law at the Law College. later called to the Bar in 1981.

Justice Sisira de Abrew thereafter joined the Attorney General's Department in 1982 and was promoted as senior state counsel on 22/2/1996.

During tenure at the Attorney General's Department conducted prosecutions before the Magistrates and High courts, in almost every province in cases relating to wildlife, customs, forest ordinance, rape, murder, narcotics etc. was recognized as a successful prosecutor in the AG's Department, has also done civil work in the Attorney General's Department for about 8 years and has worked in supervisory capacity, both in criminal and civil branches of the Department, has represented the honourable Attorney General in numerous matters before the court of Criminal Appeal and this court.

Justice Sisira de Abrew also prosecuted before the Presidential Commission investigating into disappearances of persons, represented the Sri Lankan government in 'Sri Lanka - British Bilateral Talks' in 1997 held in London, was appointed the Judge of the High court on 10/9/98 in which capacity served in Ampara, Kandy, Anuradhapura and Colombo before was appointed a judge of this Court on 20-01-2005.

As a judge of the High Court, heard criminal trials, relating to murder, rape, robbery, bribery, child abuse, and narcotic cases etc. and also heard and determined appeals and revisions from the Primary Court, Magistrate's Court, and Labour Tribunals.

Justice Sisira Abrew attended the International Training Course on 'Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders' held at the UNAFEI in Tokyo, Japan 1993 and the Regional Seminar on "Anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism for criminal justice officials" organised by the IMF in Singapore, January 2004, also attended the "Short term knowledge-sharing sessions" for the members of the Sri Lankan Judiciary in September 2004 held at the City University of Hong Kong.

Justice Sisira Abrew is well known as a judge who discharges judicial functions according to conscience, without fear or favour, brings with you a wide and varied experience as counsel and as judicial officer which My Lord will help to discharge the functions of this high office with ease and satisfaction.

On behalf of the Bar, I congratulate on this appointment and assure fullest support and cooperation of the Bar in the performance of the judicial functions which has now undertaken as a judge of this court.

Justice Eric Lloyd Basnayake: It gives me great pride as the President of the Bar Association to welcome Justice Eric Lloyd Basnayake as Judge of this Court who has been a dear friend and my contemporary at Royal College, Colombo and in the Law Faculty of the University of Ceylon and had primary education at St. Thomas College, Kotte and Royal College, Colombo.

Justice Eric Basnayake entered the University of Ceylon in 1969 and excelled as an undergraduate in studies and keenly participated in student activities of the university, was awarded the Degree in Bachelor of Laws (LLB) by the University of Colombo and was admitted to the Bar as an attorney-at-law on the 11th of December 1975, apprenticed in the Chambers of Mr. Vernon Wijethunge, Queen's Counsel and the late Mr. Nimal Senanayake, President's Counsel.

Justice Eric Basnayake joined the Attorney General's Department as a State Counsel on the 1st of Jnaury 1981, and served the Department until the year 1987, had the privilege of representing the State as a State Counsel in almost all the judicial forums from the Magistrate's Court to the Supreme Court.

Justice Basnayake commenced your judicial career as a District Judge on 01.09.1987, and functioned as District Judge in Ampara, Kalutara, Embilipitiya, Kurunegala, Mt. Lavinia and Colombo was thereafter elevated as a Judge of the High Court on 08.02.1999, and functioned as such in Kurunegala, Hambantota, Kegalle and Colombo. Until elevated to this court, was also functioning as the Presiding Judge of the Trial-at-Bar which was constituted to hear the Udathalawinna murder case.

Justice Basnayake attended the International "Training Course on Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders", held at the UNAFEI in Tokyo, Japan 1995; the SAARC Conference 2002, and numerous other conferences including the "Short-term knowledge-sharing sessions" for the members of the Sri Lankan Judiciary in September 2004, held at the City University of Hong Kong and also actively took part in the activities of the Judaical Service Association where held the positions of Treasurer, Secretary and President.

Justice Eric Basnayake has now assumed a greater responsibility in the discharge of the Judicial Functions.

The wide and varied experience which has gained during the past 30 years both as Counsel and as Judicial Officer will undoubtedly help to perform the onerous functions which has now assumed as Judge of the Court to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Justice Basnayake is well-known to the bar as a judge who discharges judicial functions without fear or favour according to law, unruffled judicial temperament, open minded approach to any case, and the courtesy extended to all members of the bar, will no doubt make an excellent judge of this court.

On behalf of the Bar, "I congratulate appointments to this court and wish a happy and successful tenure of office in this august temple of justice", BASL President added.

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