Ceremonial sitting of Court of Appeal
Tradition of Bar to welcome Judges -AG
Colombo: Speeches made by Attorney-General K. Kamalasabeyson, PC and
BASL President Nihal Jayamanne, PC at the ceremonial sitting of the
Court of Appeal held on June 7 where Justice Jagath Balapatabendi
assumed duties as President of the Court of Appeal and Justices Rohini
Perera and Sarath de Abrew assumed duties as Judges of the Court of
Attorney-General K. C. Kamalasabeyson said it has always been a
tradition of the Bar to welcome Judges who have been elevated to the
Appellate Court. In keeping with this tradition we are assembled here
today to welcome Your Lordship Justice Jagath De S. Balapatabendi as the
President, Your Ladyship Justice Rohini Perera and Your Lordship Justice
Sarath de Abrew as the Judges, of this Court.
Your Lordship Justice Balapatabendi who commenced your legal career
in March, 1973, was a busy practitioner in the Gampaha and Pugoda
Courts, before you joined the Attorney-General's Department as a State
Counsel in 1976. In 1979 you were appointed a judicial officer and
having served in various stations was appointed a Judge of the High
Court in 1995.
I had the privilege of welcoming Your Lordship on your appointment as
a Judge of the Court of Appeal in 2001. With the elevation of His
Lordship Justice Andrew Somawansa to the Supreme Court, it was Your
Lordship's turn as the next senior most Judge to be appointed as the
President of this Court.
Your Lordship Justice Balapatabendi, with your wide and varied
experience, first as a Counsel and then as a Judicial Officer, has
always demonstrated the ability to unravel complex legal issues that
were placed before you. The courtesy and fairness that you have
exhibited as a Judge have already won for you the respect of the Bar.
We are conscious of the fact that the Court of Appeal is overloaded
with work and that Your Lordship is taking upon yourself a heavy burden.
However, we have the fullest confidence that the experience and
knowledge that you have acquired would undoubtedly hold you in good
stead in the discharge of your duties.
Your Ladyship Justice Rohini Perera was educated at Visakha Vidyalaya,
Colombo. You were enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law in 1976 and worked in
the Chambers of Mr. Eardly Perera, President's Counsel. In 1980, you
were appointed State Counsel and having served in the Attorney-General's
Department for 2 years you joined the judiciary as a Magistrate. As a
Judicial Officer you served in several parts of the country and was
appointed a High Court Judge, 1999. As a High Court Judge you functioned
in several heavy stations including Colombo.
Your Ladyship holds an LL.M. Degree from the University of Hartford,
USA and also followed academic courses in USA, Thailand and Italy and
presented legal papers at Seminars and Workshops held in Sri Lanka and
abroad. Your Ladyship also addressed the SAARC Regional Conference as a
representative of Sri Lanka in 2005 and 2006.
Despite your work schedule you were also able to dedicate time to
serve as a resource person at the Sri Lanka Judges Institute. In
addition you functioned as the Secretary to the Judicial Service
Association and the High Court Judges Association and as President to
the High Court Judges Association.
Your Lordship Justice Sarath de Abrew was educated at S. Thomas'
College, Mount Lavinia and the University of Colombo where you were
awarded a bachelors degree in law. Thereafter, upon your admission as an
Attorney-at-Law in 1977 you practised in the Chambers of A. C. de Zoysa,
President's Counsel who was one of the leading criminal lawyers in the
You served in the Attorney-General's Department from 1979 to 1981 and
thereafter was appointed a judicial officer and served in several parts
of the country. In 1999 you were appointed a Judge of the High Court,
and at the time of your elevation to the Court of Appeal you were
functioning as the High Court Judge in Kalutara.
One of the many noteworthy features in Your Lordship Justice Sarath
de Abrew's career as a judicial officer was the disposal by Your
Lordship of a large number of cases in the High Court of Kalutara from
March, 2003. You also made an impact as an active member of the Judicial
Service Association and the High Court Judges Association having served
in the said bodies as President and Vice President respectively.
The Bar whilst extending its courtesy and support to Your Lordship
and Your Ladyship in the discharge of your functions, also takes this
opportunity to emphasize the importance of keeping the proverbial
streams of justice clear and pure. It is this divine function that has
earned the judiciary a special place in a democratic society.
On behalf of the Bar I congratulate Your Lordship and Your Ladyship.
We wish a successful tenure in office.
Justice Jagath Balapatabendi, PC has brought to the Court of Appeal
a wealth of experience - BASL President
President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka
President's Counsel Nihal Jayamanne said:
Your Lordship Justice Jagath Balapatabendi was educated at Richmond
College, Galle. At College Your Lordship excelled in sports and
captained the College Athletic team in 1963 and represented Richmond in
the Southern Province Group Meets and at the Public Schools Sports
Contests, where Your Lordship won several trophies.
Your Lordship's sports activities were not restricted to the track
and field, Your Lordship is also an excellent swimmer, and is a member
of the prestigious Royal Life Saving Society.
After successfully completing your academic career at school Your
Lordship joined the Ceylon Law College. While at Law College, Your
Lordship showed concern for the poor litigants and was involved in
providing legal assistance to them, and in recognition of this work,
Your Lordship was awarded a certificate by the Student Legal Aid
Programme in 1971. Your Lordship was also the Vice President of the
Sinhala Union of the Law College in 1970.
Your Lordship joined the legal profession in March 1973 and practised
as an Attorney-at-Law in Gampaha and the Pugoda Courts. After 2 1/2
years of active practice in the private Bar, Your Lordship joined the
Attorney General's Department as a State Counsel, and served for 4 1/2
years in both the civil and criminal divisions, and prosecuted in
several High Courts in various parts of the island.
In 1979, Your Lordship joined the Judiciary as a Magistrate and
thereafter functioned as a District Judge. After 15 years Your Lordship
was appointed a Judge of the High Court in 1995. Your Lordship was also
the President of the Judicial Services Association in 1995.
Your Lordship was elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2001.
Your Lordship has been a career judge and has brought to the Court of
Appeal a wealth of experience acquired as Counsel, and as a Judge of the
Magistrate's, District and High Courts. Your Lordship has also acquired
valuable experience by attending several seminars and programmes in Sri
Lanka and abroad.
Your Lordship was nominated in 1985 by the Judicial Services
Commission (JSC) as an official delegate of Sri Lanka to attend the
Commonwealth Magistrates Conference in Cyprus. Your Lordship also
attended a comprehensive training programme at the prestigious National
Law School of Bangalore in December, 2000.
In 2003, Your Lordship participated in the "Visitor's Programme" held
in England, sponsored by the British High Commission.
In 2005, Your Lordship participated at the workshop on "access to
Justice" at the Judges Institute in Bopal, New Delhi. Your Lordship has
also participated in a workshop on Criminal Law held in Rome in 2005 and
in a workshop on the New Companies Act held in Hong Kong, in May this
year. Your Lordship has always been a friend to the members of the Bar.
I have not observed Your Lordship ever being discourteous to a Lawyer
who appeared before you. We of the Unofficial Bar are indeed happy that
Your Lordship after a long Judicial Career has been elevated to the
prestigious office of the President of the Court of Appeal.
We welcome Your Lordship as the new President of the Court of Appeal
and wish you a successful term of office, he said.
'Privilege to welcome Justice Rohini Perera, lady of distinction'
The BASL President said that it is indeed a rare privilege to welcome
Justice Mrs. Rohini Perera, a lady of distinction as a judge of the
Court of Appeal.
Your Ladyship Madam Justice Rohini Perera is a former student of
After a successful educational career in school Your Ladyship entered
the Law College and was called to the Bar in 1976 and practised in the
chambers of Eardley Perera P.C. from 1976-1980.
Your Ladyship thereafter joined the Attorney General's Department as
a State Counsel in 1980 and joined the Judiciary as a Magistrate in
Your Ladyship served in the capacity of a Magistrate and District
Judge in Balangoda, Colombo, Kegalle, Matara, Homagama and Matale.
Your Ladyship was appointed a High Court Judge and served in Badulla,
Chilaw, Avissawella, Galle and in Colombo till Your Ladyship's elevation
to the Court of Appeal.
Your Ladyship has a Masters's Degree in Law from the University of
Hartford, Connecticut, USA. Your Ladyship's thesis was on "Criminal Law
and Theory of Punishment" for the purpose of the Master's Degree. Your
Ladyship completed research papers on "Criminal Jurisprudence", "The
Theory of Homicide", "Family Law - Its Impact upon church and State",
"Child Rights", "Rehabilitation of Victims and Victimizers".
Your Ladyship was offered scholarships to the USA, Thailand and Italy
to pursue Your Ladyship's academic studies.
Your Ladyship was invited to present papers at workshops and to
participate at seminars in Canada, the United Kingdom, India and Nepal.
Your Ladyship represented Sri Lanka and addressed the SAARC Regional
Conference in 2005 and 2006; organised by the SAARC regional committee
and presented papers on "Trafficking of Women and Children; the Sri
Lanka Perspective" and the problem of illicit immigration in Sri Lanka.
Your Ladyship was a member of the National Charter of Women's
Affairs, 1993 appointed by His Excellency the President, Your Ladyship
served as the Secretary of the Judicial Services Association, the
Secretary, High Court Judges Association, the President of the High
Court Judges Association and as a Resource Person with the Sri Lanka
On a personal note, I must state that I have known Your Ladyship from
the time you were apprenticing under Mr. Eardley Perera P.C. I'm
therefore indeed happy to welcome Your Ladyship as a Judge of the Court
of Appeal during my tenure of office as the President of the Bar
No doubt that Your Ladyship will adorn the Bench with your
characteristic charm and competence. The Bar welcomes Your Ladyship to
the Court of Appeal and wishes Your Ladyship a successful tenure of
Justice Sarath de Abrew, a career judge with a vast knowledge - BASL
President Nihal Jayamanne
BASL president Nihal Jayamanne, PC said: "Your Lordship Justice
Ananda Sarath de Abrew had your education at S. Thomas' College, Mt.
Lavinia. While at College Your Lordship excelled in languages and won
prizes for Sinhala, English and Latin.
After successfully passing in all 4 subjects at the G.C.E. Advanced
Level Examination in 1971 Your Lordship entered the Law Faculty of the
University of Colombo and graduated in 1974. Your Lordship thereafter
entered Sri Lanka Law College and was admitted as an Attorney-at-Law in
August, 1977. At Law College Your Lordship was a member of the Rugby and
In 1978 Your Lordship worked as a research assistant to the Law
Commission and did your apprenticeship under Mr. Bunty Soysa.
After practising in the Chambers of Mr. A.C. (Bunty) Soysa for a
short while, Your Lordship joined the Attorney General's Department as a
State Counsel, and represented the Attorney General in both High Courts
of Colombo and in the Court of Appeal.
Thereafter Your Lordship joined the Judiciary as a Magistrate in 1982
and served in Trincomalee and Panadura till 1987. In 1987 Your Lordship
was appointed the District Judge of Tangalle. Your Lordship's judicial
career in the Magistrates and District Courts' culminated with Your
Lordship's appointment as a High Court Judge in 1999.
Your Lordship has served as a High Court Judge in Ampara, Hambantota
and Kalutara. Your Lordship has participated in several seminars and
programmes abroad. At a training programme in Japan conducted by the
U.N. Far-East Institute, Your Lordship's contribution as the Chairman of
the workshop on the judiciary was acclaimed.
Your Lordship also participated in a training programme at the City
University in Hong Kong, in 2002.
While a Judicial Officer, Your Lordship served in a commission
appointed by the Minister of Justice to recommend amendments to the
Criminal Procedure Code.
Your Lordship was the President of the Judicial Services Association
and the Chairman of the Housing Committee which initiated the Beddegana
Housing Project for Judges.
Your Lordship was until Your Lordship's elevation to the Court of
Appeal the Vice President of the High Court Judges Association.
Your Lordship is a Career Judge and will no doubt bring Your
Lordship's experience to the Court of Appeal.
We are confident that Your Lordship will, in discharging your duties
as an Honourable Judge of the Court of Appeal act with wisdom.
The Unofficial Bar welcomes Your Lordship Justice de Abrew to the
prestigious and honourable position of a Judge of the Court of Appeal
and we wish Your Lordship a successful term of office.
Bar also must be of the highest standards of integrity - Justice
President of the Court of Appeal Justice Jagath Balapatabendi said:
"I assume this high office as the President of the Court of Appeal
today, with humility and respect for the law prevailing in this country.
I am mindful of the onerous nature of the duties I would now call
upon to perform as the President of the Court of Appeal. Mr. Attorney
and Mr. Jayamanne, We, the Judges and you the Lawyers are duty bound to
protect, safeguard, and to uphold the great and fine judicial traditions
set up by our Judges who adorned the Bench of our Courts.
It would be my endeavour with firm commitment to hold the scales with
even hands and administer Justice without fear or favour or ill-will, I
shall do nothing that I will impair the integrity, dignity and the
authority of this Court.
The experience I have gained as a practising Lawyer and as a State
Counsel in the Attorney-General's Department for over 6 1/2 years proved
to be invaluable help to me and stood me in good stead when I assumed
duties as a Magistrate in 1979, thereafter during my period of service
in the judiciary for over 25 years as a Magistrate, a District Judge, a
High Court Judge and a Judge of the Court of Appeal, I have always
received the whole hearted and unstinted corporation of the members of
the Bar, not only in Colombo but also in every outstation Courts I
I believed in and which I have practised is that to be certain in
reaching a correct decision and a just decision is to show a willingness
to listen and to learn, until both sides are heard which would greatly
diminish the risk of reaching an unjust decision. I would wish to make a
point at this stage, the edifice of judicial officer is built upon four
equally strong columns, each of which coincidently should be as erect as
I, with which it is spelt. They are impartiality, independence,
industry and integrity. These four columns should be of equal strength
and bear an equal proportion of the burden in the proper discharge of
On the stability or fragility of these columns depends the confidence
of those who enter a Court of Justice, which is the final refuge of the
aggrieved, whether the grievance complained of is against an individual,
the bureaucracy, or the State. Democratic freedoms can subsist only if
there is stability and confidence in the halls of justice.
If on the other hand the pillars on which the edifice of justice
stands even show signs of weakness or instability the fabric of society
will crumble and metamorphose itself into an anarchy where self help and
the rule of the jungle will take, the place of the rule of law and the
civilized society must necessarily perish.
Here relies the importance of the Judicial function, the impartiality
and independence of which form the strongest bulwark of a stable
democracy. The Bar also must be of the highest standards of integrity.
An Honourable Bar is a strong support to an honourable Bench.
The standards the Community expects of its lawyers are of course,
considerably heightened in the case of Judges, for if lawyers are
trustees and custodians of their clients' rights, judges are the
trustees and custodians of the law in a higher sense. They are trustees
not only for the public, but for the lawyers themselves, for in the last
analysis it is on them that the law and its proper administration
We all know that there is a big backlog of civil appeals' it has been
there for the last few decades' various solutions were suggested and
implemented but the problem still remains. I suggest that more Judges,
more court houses, adequate Court staff, adequate equipments, modern law
books and current legal literature are essential if any impression is to
be made on the massive backlog of civil appeals that has been built up.
I have been sitting in the Criminal Court of Appeal (CCA) as the
senior Judge and I am happy to say that presently no complaints as these
criminal appeals are now heard and disposed of quite expeditiously, at
present the criminal appeals lodge in the year 2005 are listed for
Finally, I remember with great love and affection, my father and
mother who brought me up with care and attention, who are not among the
I thank you all the members of the Official and unofficial Bar, the
Judges of the High Court, District Court, and Magistrates', he Registrar
and the staff, all my friends for being present here this morning.
I am also thankful to my wife Sunila and my three sons including my
brother and sister for their assistance."
"Also, I remember with gratitude and respect all my teachers who
taught me at my alma matar Richmond College' Galle and Dharmapala
Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya", Justice Balapatabendi said in conclusion.
We are endowed with an expanding rich tapestry of laws to draw from
- Justice Rohini Perera
Judge of the Courts of Appeal Justice Rohini Perera said: "Your
Lordship the Hon. President of the Court of Appeal, Your Lordships the
other Hon. Judges of the Courts of Appeal, my colleagues the Hon High
Court Judges and the Hon, Members of the judiciary, Hon. Attorney
General, Mr. President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Members of
the Legal Profession, the members of my family, my three children Sureni,
Tarini and Irantha and my son in law Janek and my future son in law
Adrian and the distinguished guests.
I pay special tribute to my mother and father with a sense of sadness
that they are not here to share this proud moment of mine which I would
not have achieved without their support and guidance. It is to them that
I owe my present position. I have been deeply touched and indeed greatly
moved by the rich tributes which I have just a moment ago received, on
behalf of both, the members of the official Bar and of the un-official
The trust intermixed with hopes and well wishes presented to me in
their tributes humbles me even before I sit as a judge of this court
later today. I am taking this first opportunity, that I have, to thank
them both and assure through them to both segments of our learned and
noble profession that I shall always keep in mind the expectations you
place upon us the judges, you have both so eloquently and concisely
It is important to mention at the outset that we are placed in this
exalted position to interpret the law as laid down not only by
Parliament but also the law that we have inherited through judicial
precedents. We do not make law under the thin garb of interpretation.
That we shall not have the power to do. But we do not sit here as
robots engaged in robotic judicial behaviour of engaging in what is
commonly referred to as mechanical jurisprudence. The scheme of laws
that we apply has provided us with sharp scalpels to perform surgery
where ever and when ever it deems necessary to us, so that we may make
the law that we apply meaningful within the fact situation which you
Learned Members of the Bar would have with diligence and care presented
With those sharp scalpels provided to us we are able to dissect the
law presented to us and fashion a remedy which provides justice, equity
and good sense. Here, I am referring to the three Rules of
interpretations: the Literal Rule, the Mischief Rule and the Golden
Rule. Additionally we are endowed with the several Maxims that we have
inherited from both the Civil and the English legal traditions.
These are powerful tools that we possess as judges in order to cut
through any verbiage that may cause doubts and uncertainties which might
shroud the true meaning of the law that we apply. To that extent we
could be innovative. And to that extent we might engage ourselves upon a
voyage of discovery.
We are endowed with an expanding rich tapestry of laws to draw from.
We as judges of this court are placed at the confluence of five legal
systems. Our own Common Law - the Roman Dutch Law with a history that
may be traced back, through the Roman Law, to the Twelve Tables,
compiled around the sixth century B.C. Our links with the English Common
Law are as strong as steel.
We have two systems of laws which have sprung out of the Ancient
customs of the Sinhala and the Tamil communities - the Thesavalamai and
the Kandyan Law. We have two laws which have roots in two of the great
religions of the world. Muslim Law and the Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law.
We therefore, sit here, My Lords, clothed by those five rich legal
fabrics, which we must jealously guard and administer with a fairness
which must be abundantly transparent.
The first principle in judging is the maintenance of the Rule of Law.
The maintenance of the Rule of Law requires both erudition and
fortitude. The judge must both be learned and must be unflinching in the
fair and equitable dispensation of Justice. A judge must be prepared to
face with fortitude the threats that the judiciary now faces from those
who know of justice and fairness in their own way, the way of the
If a judge were to loose his or her nerve under the pressures from
those who have taken leave of civil society, then the day would have
arrived when this land of ours would have fallen into the grip of
anarchy, leading to its social and spiritual decay. I expressed a
similar sentiment when I had the sad task of delivering the funeral
oration at the cremation of the late Mr. Justice Ambepitiya.
I say it again here because of the era of crime in which we as judges
must now function, appears in new and insidious forms. In our quest to
do justice, if we were to find criminals with blood, dripping from their
hands, standing in our way, we as judges, must be ready to pass through
In passing through them undeterred, we must always be conscious of
the fact that even the worst criminal on record is primarily a human
being and that he or she is entitled to the protections of fundamental
rights declared in Chapter three of our constitution. Constitutions are
the Testaments of a nation. It embodies the spirit of a nation.
It provides the Nation with its hopes and its aspirations. And we as
judges must administer it. Interpret it and then apply it. We must
regard the Constitution as our lodestone that attracts the nation to it
and to venerate it. It is our bounden duty as judges to make our
Constitution meaningful to the nation we serve. Through such means we
must earn the respect of this nation that we serve.
We the judges must use the Constitution in a way that we remain its
guardians. And the people must respect and protect us because we guard
the one institution to which they could turn both at happier times and
All three acts on behalf of the people of this country. Being
conscious of that fact we must always approach any interpretation of our
Constitution from the standpoint of a partnership. Partnership with the
Executive and the Legislature. The people by their free vote have chosen
to establish this partnership at every General Election.
Therefore it is our inalienable duty to act as partners with the
legislature and the executive to guard, protect, interpret, and apply
the Constitution. In all these matters the people are at the center.
If you detect in what I have thus far said that there is a touch of
devotion to what is commonly referred to as humanist jurisprudence, you
are right. One of the early sources of this jurisprudence is seen carved
in stone upon the length and breath of the Asoka Pillar from which
Indian Constitutionalism has derived its heritage. But we see in our own
Constitution an overpowering influence of humanist jurisprudence where
the human being is located at its centre. The intuitive perceptions of
poets and playwrights are sometimes more expressive of humanistic
jurisprudential values than the pens of judges and the lectures of
learned Professors of Law. Shakespeare in Hamlet poetizised the
humanists Manifesto which I am espousing here today. He wrote:
"What a piece of work is a man!
How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculty - in form, in moving,
How express and admirable in action
How like an Angel!
In apprehension how like a god!
The beauty of the world!
The paragon of Animals.
The Man. That was the human being to Shakespeare. And it is they whom
we are here to serve within the parameters drawn by our Constitution.
Humanists jurisprudence espouses a moral foundation. It requires a
judge to apply the law so that it achieves the ends of justice, rather
than merely to provide a result.
It requires a judge to be conscious of the need to take a Rule to the
four corners of the legal system, in search of a just resolution to the
dispute, and not merely to provide an end to it."
"I thank you My Lords, the gentlemen of the Bar and honoured guests
for the patient hearing you have given me today, justice Rohini Perera
said in Conclusion.
Bench and the Bar are components of one unit - Justice Sarath de
Justice Sarath de Abrew, Judge of the Court of Appeal
in his speech, at the ceremonial sitting said:
"First of all let me associate myself with all the sentiments
expressed about Justice Balapatabendi and Justice Rohini Perera. Let me
also thank you for the kind and generous words spoken about me which
would serve as a source of inspiration in the years to come.
I am privileged to be a member of the superior courts of Sri Lanka
which has been adorned in the past by so many illustrious and eminent
judges which has given our country a rich judicial heritage. I am also
acutely aware of the onerous duties and responsibilities cast on me in
the future and shall devote myself to perform my duties to the best of
my ability. In order to successfully accomplish the above, I take this
opportunity to solicit the fullest co-operation of the Official Bar and
the Unofficial Bar.
I have given deep thought as to what message I should convey to you
today. Drawing from my experience as a career judge during the last 25
years, I have decided to highlight to you the Constitutional provision
that "all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal
protection of the law".
Article 13 (3) of our constitution also provides that "Any person
charged with an offence shall be entitled to be heard in person or by an
attorney-at-law, at a fair trial by a competent court".
We must examine as to how this concept of equality before the law
works in actual practice. During my tenure at Ampara and Hambantota as
High Court Judge I have seen people accused of grave crime from rural
backward areas, having already exhausted their financial resources in
facing the Non-Summary inquiry, crestfallen and dejected, and unable to
retain counsel, place their entire fate in the hands of the court, where
the most junior member of the Bar is invariably assigned to defend the
In such situations one may question whether these miserable people
receive equal protection of the law and also whether they are given full
benefit of the Constitutional right of being defended by a competent
attorney-at-law. If the question is asked from me I would perhaps say
no. This is where the importance of Legal Aid comes in.
Speaking at an annual convocation of the Bar Association no less a
person than His Lordship, Justice G. P. S. De Silva, then Chief Justice
of our country remarked that to a poor man "equality before law" is a
meaningless phrase. His Lordship went on to remark "this is an area in
which the profession itself could make a more positive contribution. The
question is essentially one of access to justice. An effective Legal Aid
Scheme will immeasurably strengthen our justice system."
In our system of justice the Bench and the Bar are components of one
unit. The impairment of one invariably affects the other. Therefore the
Bench should uphold the rights and privileges of the Bar, while equally
the Bar should safeguard the prestige and reputation of the Bench.
With the advent of the proposed Provincial Appellate Courts and with
the increase in cadre of the number of Appeal Court Judges in the
future, I am sure we are taking a step in the right direction in
addressing this problem. With this novel idea of decentralisation, the
influx of cases to the Court of Appeal in Colombo could be minimised,
thereby better enabling the judges in Colombo to tackle the backlog.
Not only so, after the decentralisation the poor litigants in every
nook and corner of the country would have easier access to the law in
litigating their appeals and writ and bail applications. Therefore I
take this opportunity to enlist the support of the Official Bar and the
Unofficial Bar to whatever novel methods and innovations that are
contemplated in reducing the backlog in the Court of Appeal and to
afford easy access to justice to poor litigants islandwide.
Speaking about myself, on this occasion I remember with great
affection my late father, who was a retired Deputy Commissioner of
Buddhist Affairs, who guided me dutifully and affectionately during my
formative days and my early judicial career.
Had he lived I have no doubt that he would be the happiest man today.
I must not also fail to mention with gratitude Dr. Nissanka Wijayaratne,
former Minister of Justice, a very close friend of my father who was a
fatherly figure and a great source of inspiration in my life.
I also remember with gratitude my teachers at S. Thomas' College, Mt.
Lavinia who taught me the importance of methodical hard work with a
sense of responsibility. At school I was inculcated with the qualities
of being truthful and fair in our dealings and also to accept defeat in
the proper spirit. I must also thank Senior Attorney the late A.C. (Bunty)
De Zoysa under whom I apprenticed and practised.
I still remember appearing as a junior in several criminal trials
where I had the privilege of witnessing devastating cross-examination of
witnesses on the part of my senior Mr. A. C. De Zoysa which captured my
imagination. I must also thank the Attorney-General's department for the
training and confidence bestowed on me during my career as a State
Counsel which went a long way to assist me in my judicial career. In
fact in the very first case I handled on behalf of the Attorney General
I was pitted against Mr. E. R. S. R. Coomaraswamy who was a leading
member of the Bar at that time.
Last but not the least, I remember with gratitude the guidance and
assistance rendered to me during my career by the former Chief Justice
Hon. G. P. S. De Silva, former Supreme Court Judge Justice Priyantha
Perera and the present Chief Justice Hon. Sarath N. Silva who were all
my former seniors in the Attorney-General's Department.
Finally I must thank my mother, my wife and daughter who are all
present here today for all the understanding, sacrifices, encouragement,
love and affection extended to me right throughout my career. In
conclusion I must thank everyone present here this morning and all those
who sent me messages of congratulations and gave telephone calls for