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Government Gazette

Attorney General PC K.C. Kamalasabayson’s 60th birth anniversary falls tomorrow:

A great son of our land

One of the eminent personalities of Hulftsdorp Hill would have celebrated his 60th birthday tomorrow if he had been alive. K.C. Kamalasabayson, PC was always respected and will continue to be remembered not only as a distinguished Attorney-General of this country but also a sincere and genuine friend who was popular because of his simplicity and integrity.

In the late 60s I had come to know ‘Sabayson’ - of course some friends called him ‘Saba’ or ‘Kamal’ at the Ceylon Law College (Sri Lanka Law College was then known by that name) as he was two years junior to me.


K.C. Kamalasabayson, PC

I still remember that when ‘Sabayson’ and I participated in a Tamil impromptu oratorical contest I could not match his humorous manner of addressing and I told him (even before the results were announced) that he had won the heart of the female Chairman of the Panel of Judges who enjoyed Sabayson’s humour.

Later, both of us had to sit together in a panel and interview Tamil medium candidates who missed the Law College Entrance. Of course, then we had no disagreement between both of us.

He was the Head of the Official Bar for seven and half years. He never ‘lost his head’ because of his humility. He always consulted his juniors and encouraged free discussion and took considered decisions.

Thus, he did not demand respect but commanded respect as pointed out by A. Gnanathansan, PC, (then Deputy Solicitor General and now Additional Solicitor General) who spoke on behalf of his colleagues when they bid farewell to Sabayson when the latter retired in April 2007 from the office of Attorney-General.

He devilled in the Chambers of the late G.F. Sethukavalar, PC, and his brother late K.C. Kamalanathan. I came to know Sabayson more closely at Sethukavalar’s Chambers. He continued to be a keen student of law.

In August 1974, he joined the Attorney-General’s Department and rose to be a Senior State Counsel in 1983 and as a Deputy Solicitor General in 1992.

In 1996, he was appointed the Additional Solicitor General and took silk in the same year. Having become the Solicitor General on December 1, 1998, he succeeded S.N. Silva, PC as the Attorney-General on October 15, 1999.

In an interview to a journal, K.C. Kamlasabayson, PC Attorney-General said:

“I don’t believe in pressure which I never experienced. That is why I enjoyed 33 years of my stay in the Attorney-General’s Department... I have always maintained that ‘Eminence by merit alone you live respected, and die regretted”. At the reference held in the Supreme Court on November 16, 2007, Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva PC said:

“He was a scholar, counsel, good public servant and a friend to one and all....”

C.R. de Silva , PC, paid a glowing tribute to his predecessor:

“Kamalasabayson was a great lawyer, a great teacher and an equally great 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 that he had made towards the legal profession. He was indeed a giant of our times - indomitable courage, steadfast in purpose, total in commitment, clear-sighted in vision, irreproachable in character and yet simple in manner...”

These words in fact echoed the views of Sabayson’s colleagues at the Bar.

When we, members of the Bar gave him a farewell and welcomed his successor at a dinner, he asked in his speech “Why are you all bidding me a farewell. I have come back with you also to Unofficial Bar. You should welcome me.”

No one expected that he would bid farewell to this world on August 12, 2007.

Delivering the inaugural K.C. Kamalasabayson PC, Memorial Oration last year, Justice Saleem Marsoof, PC Judge of the Supreme Court said:

“Today, we pay tribute to the memory of late Kandappar Chinniah Kamalasabayson, who will be remembered as one of the most distinguished Attorneys-General Sri Lanka ever produced, and who has left a lasting impression in our minds and hearts as a great son of our land. He was snatched away from our midst by the deadliest of all diseases, and his untimely demise was an irreparable loss to our country and to humanity.”

When the BASL published the 2007 issue of the Bar Association Law Journal, I sought the permission of the Bar Council to dedicate it to Sabayson and my proposal received the unanimous approval. In fact, every one felt that, that was one way we could share the sorrow of his beloved wife Ramani and loving daughter Vidhya.

In conclusion, I would like to quote what another contemporary of ours at the Ceylon Law College in the 60s said in his funeral oration on August 16, 2007 in his capacity as President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka Nihal Jayamanne PC.

“My own regret is that this good man’s life was taken away soon at the intellectually young age of 58 years. He could have contributed immensely to the progress of our country in so may ways if his life was spared by destiny for at least a decade more. But then remember and have solace in the knowledge that

“The condiment of life is death”.

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