Seven distinguished legal luminaries remembered
The Bench and Bar paid tribute to seven distinguished members of the
Inner Bar at a reference at a special ceremonial sitting of the Supreme
Court yesterday morning.
Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva PC addressing the senior and junior
members of the Official Bar, Unofficial Bar and the family members of
the late distinguished members of the Inner Bar said, ďOn behalf of the
Bench I wish to associate myself with the respectful reference made to
the memory of seven distinguished members of the Inner Bar whose demise
we record today with gratitude and sadness.
They have all, in their respective ways, contributed much to the
activity of the Bar and have served the profession with distinction and
The other Supreme Court Judges who associated with the Chief Justice
Sarath N. Silva PC, were Justice Dr. Shirani Banadaranayake, Justice
Nihal Jayasinghe, Justice Shiranee Tillekewardena, Justice Nimal Gamini
Amaratunga, Justice Andrew Somawansa and Justice Jagath Balpatabendi.
President of the Court of Appeal, other Judges of the Court of
Appeal, High Court Judges, Colombo District Judge, the Additional
District Judges and Colombo Chief Magistrate and Additional Magistrate
were also present at ceremonial sittings.
Supreme Court Registrar Bandula Atapattu officiated.
The late seven legal luminaries remembered were former Attorney
General K.C. Kamalasabeyson PC, Queenís Counsel Vernon Wijetunga,
Presidentís Counsel T.B. Dissanayake, Presidentís Counsel Paul Perera,
Presidentís Counsel Upawansa Yapa, Presidentís Counsel Anil Obeysekere
and Presidentís Counsel Stanley Tillekeratne.
The Chief Justice said the former Attorney General K.C.
Kamalasabeyson PC whose untimely demise shocked and saddened us, served
the Attorney Generalís Department with commitment and dedication for
over three decades.
Kamalasabeyson held positions at all levels starting as a State
Counsel in 1974 and became the Attorney General in 1999. He had laid
down the reigns of office a few months prior to his untimely demise this
He hailed from a respectable Hindu family from Trincomalee and he
moved with all communities, being able to speak fluently all three
languages. His brother Kamalanathan was also an eminent Advocate,Ē
I am personally indebted to Kamalasabayson for having represented me
in court when persons purporting to act in the public interest sought to
implead my official actions and appointment.
The reported judgments in those cases display Kamalasabaysonís skill
and dedication which brought to an end a vicious and malicious trend
which I hope would never resurface in this country.
We have to especially condole with his wife and his only daughter, in
whose welfare and progress Kamalasabayson was deeply concerned since he
was basically a good family man.
Vernon Wijetunga, QC born in 1920 belonged to a different era and
class of persons. He was flamboyant, erudite and brilliant in advocacy.
His much respected family included several distinguished lawyers in
Matara. His domain was the District Courts but he was at ease in
presenting cases in the Superior Courts.
He was an active member of the Ceylon Natural History Association,
the Ceylon Geographical Society, the Royal Asiatic Society, Wildlife and
Nature Protection Society, the Classical Association and so on.
T.B. Dissanayake was a person of different orientation. He had quiet
a disposition and he specialized in the study of Kandyan Law and
Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law, on which subjects he authored several
He was through in the preparation of his cases and presented his
clientsí cause with quiet persuasive dignity. He served a period as a
Commissioner of Assize and I personally recall prosecuting before him.
Paul Perera, was unique. A vibrant and dynamic man of many parts. He
was a public servant, lawyer, corporation boss, politician and above all
a genial and effervescent gentleman.
He joined the Bar in 1967 graduated from the University of Colombo
with a Honours Degree in History. He enjoyed an extensive civil practice
in the original Courts, worked with the late H.W. Jayawardena, QC, and
Neville Samarakoon QC, who later became Chief Justice. He gained fame as
a politician having been closely associated with the then President J.R.
He entered Parliament in 1983 and served as a District Minister. He
was elected as a Member of Parliament from the Gampaha District and
served as the Minister of Justice and later as Minister of Science and
Technology. The was an active Parliamentarian much respected by both
sides. He functioned as Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises
(COPE) with acceptance and devoid of unnecessary controversy.
His wife Kulaseeli Perera has also been involved in the public
affairs of this country and his son Ronald Perera, is our friend as a
prominent member of the Bar. Upawansa Yapa was a member of the Attorney
Generalís Department who became the Solicitor General Yapa was from
Bandarawela and led a simple life true to his rustic beginnings.
He handled mainly criminal matters in the Attorney Generalís
Department and I recall the high regard Counsel of the calibre of the
late Dr. Colvin R. de Silva had for Yapa. Anil Obeysekera was also from
a family of legal luminaries.
He and his brother Rajitha, have been contemporaneous members of the
Inner Bar. Obeysekera had an extensive practice doing work of different
types in all courts.
He made each case look quite simple by his easy way but was
nevertheless deeply involved in serving his client well. Obeysekera had
firm political loyalties and served the party of his choice without let
He held several important public offices including that of being the
Chairman of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, the Associated Newspapers
of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Telecom.
Stanley Tilakaratne, was another lawyer cum politician. He made his
entry to politics from the Communist Party but was by conduct an urbane
gentleman. He could emerge smilingly from being a red or blue shirted
protester in the street to being a well clad and articulate Counsel. He
excelled as a criminal lawyer.
He had an extensive practice in the original criminal courts that
took him to most part of the country. He served with distinction as
Speaker of the Parliament, including in the difficult days when the
Constitution of 1972 was promulgated.
ďI would direct that a minute of these proceedings be sent by
Registrar of the Court to the members of the families of late K.C.
Kamalasabayson, Vernon Wijetunga, T.B. Dissanayake, Paul Perera,
Upawansa Yapa, Anil Obeysekera and Stanley Tillekeratne.