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 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
In an interview to a journal, K.C. Kamlasabayson, PC Attorney-General
“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
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
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
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”.