Legal luminaries who lit up the Bar
“WE are gathered today in remembrance of some of the members of the
legal fraternity who are no longer with us. Today’s proceedings are
indeed unique in nature, for this Court refers to eight former Justices
of this Supreme Court and seven President’s Counsel who have done yeoman
service to the legal profession. They who has been noted for their
integrity, impartiality and fairness,” said Chief Justice Asoka de Silva
at a reference made to late Justices and President’s Counsel at the
Supreme Court Complex recently.
Chief Justice Asoka de Silva
The eight Justices are Justice E.A.D. Athukorale, Justice K.M.M.B.
Kulatunga, Justice M. Jameel, Justice Mark Damien Hugh Fernando PC,
Justice P. Ramanathan, Justice Theodore Albert de Silva Wijesundera,
Justice Raja Fernando and Justice Wilmot Dias Gunasekera.
We pay this tribute with utmost respect and honour to- Justice E.A.D.
Athukorale - He was one of two lawyers who practised in the outstations,
who were appointed to the court of appeal on its establishment under the
1978 Constitution. An old boy of Ananda College he completed his higher
education at Ceylon Law College and as an external student of the
University of London. Justice Athukorale was called to the Bar in 1949
and started off with a strong area practice particularly in the
His knowledge and experience of civil law helped Court of Appeal
Bench to expedite backlogged civil cases. He earned a reputation for
particularly expediting very old cases. He was appointed as a judge of
the Court of Appeal by President J. R. Jayewardene in 1978. In 1982 he
became the President of the Court of Appeal and later appointed as a
Judge of the Supreme Court. He was involved in landmark judgements
including the often cited judgement in Amal Sudath Silva’s case.
Justice K.M.M.B. Kulatunga - had his early education at St.
Bernadette’s and St. Joseph’s and thereafter entered the University of
Ceylon in 1953 and graduated in 1955. He passed out of Law College in
1956 and took oaths as an Advocate in 1957. He joined the Attorney
General’s department in November of 1959 and was promoted to the
position of Senior State Counsel. Justice Kulatunga then proceeded to
Cambridge where he followed a Post Graduate course in International Law
and was awarded a Master Degree. From 1982 he functioned as the
Solicitor General and took silk in 1983. On several occasions he acted
for the Attorney General when the permanent holder of the office was out
of the island.
Justice Kulatunga also acted as the Legal Draftsman and as Additional
Secretary to the Ministry of Justice. He was appointed a Judge of the
Supreme Court in 1989. He chaired the Bindunuwewa Commission and during
retirement authored the renowned book titled “Disorder in Sri Lanka”
(2001). He passed away on June 3, 2010. He was known to take each
problem on its merits, never compromising the dictates of Law in Favour
Justice M. Jameel - Received his early education at Trinity College,
Kandy and entered University of Ceylon to follow a degree in science.
Following graduation he entered the Law College.
He was known for his distinguished record at the Law College. He was
called to the Bar in 1950 and after ten years of practice Justice Jameel
joined the Judiciary in 1960 as Magistrate. He steadily rose up the
rungs of judicial ladder and in fullness of time was appointed to Court
of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court.
He was an esteemed Judge of the Supreme Court and also a Member of
the Constitutional Council. He was also appointed as Ambassador to
United Arab Emirates. Coming from a multi cultural background he was
known for his balanced approach to problems. He passed away on September
Justice Mark Fernando PC- Following the footsteps of his grandfather
the late Justice V.M. Fernando and his father the former Chief Justice
H.N.G. Fernando, Justice Mark Fernando too became an illustrious, well
conversant learned Judge of the Supreme Court. His bright academic
career started at St. Joseph’s College Colombo 10, then entering the
University of Ceylon, Peradeniya he obtained a first class honours for
his Bachelor of Law.
Immediately afterwards he entered the Law College of Ceylon and
apprenticed in the Chambers of C. Ranganathan QC and was called to the
Bar on July 30, 1963.He specialized in Constitutional law matters. He
took Silk in 1985, just three years before he was sworn in as a Judge of
the Supreme Court. He was the youngest President’s Counsel to be sworn
in. He was respected for his integrity and simplicity. His judgements
reflected the true principles he stood for. Before his premature
retirement he served as a Judge of the Asian Development Bank
Administrative tribunal. He is considered to be one of the sharpest
legal minds Sri Lanka has ever produced and was mentor to thousands of
Justice P. Ramanathan - He was born into a conservative Hindu Family,
Justice Ramanathan received his early education at St Joseph’s College,
Colombo. He continued his studies at Montford High School in South India
and thereafter set sail to the United Kingdom to further his education.
After a brief spell at St. David’s College, in Wales, he was called to
the Bar by the Hon. Society of Gray’s Inn. He returned to Sri Lanka as a
Barrister, and was admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court.
After a brief spell at the Private Bar, he joined the Attorney
General’s Department in the late 1970s where he was well-known for his
sense of fair play whether prosecuting in the Assizes or arguing
Criminal Appeals in the Court of Criminal Appeal on behalf of the
Attorney General. His tenure as a Judge began in the High Court, soon
thereafter becoming Judge of the Court of Appeal, President of the Court
of Appeal and Judge of the Supreme Court. Rama as he was affectionately
called was a keen sportsman and after his retirement he functioned as a
Governor of the Western Province of Sri Lanka.
Justice Theodore Albert de Silva Wijesundera - The Late Justice
Wijesundera was a product of Nalanda College, Colombo and Dharmasoka
College, Ambalangoda. He was called to the Bar in 1945 and joined the
Attorney General’s Department in 1950 as a temporary Additional Crown
Counsel. He was appointed as a Crown Counsel in 1951. from 1957 to 1958
he served as a legal assistant to Local Government and Cultural Affairs
Ministry on secondment. He was later appointed Commissioner of Assize in
1994 and to the Supreme Court. After his retirement he was appointed as
Chairman of the first Commission on Bribery and Corruption. Two of his
daughters Deepali and Menaka both are presently High Court Judges.
Justice Raja Fernando - a product of Maris Stella College, Negombo,
St. Anne’s Kurunegala and St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. He entered the
Law College and completed legal education to pass out as an Attorney in
1971, the same year he was admitted to the Bar. He joined the Sri Lanka
Army in 1973 as a legal officer in the rank of Captain. Thereafter he
joined the Attorney General’s department (Criminal Division) in 1975 as
a State Counsel and prosecuted in several High Courts in the island. In
1987, in addition to his duties as a State Counsel he was seconded for
service to the Sri Lanka Navy as Judge Advocate in the rank of
Commodore. In 1992 he was appointed as a Judge of the High Court.
Later he was stationed at Commercial High Court of Colombo. Whilst
handling judicial office he obtained leave for two years and served in
Belize as Director of Public prosecution. In 2000 he was appointed as a
judge of the Court of Appeal. And in the year of 2004 he was elevated to
Supreme Court bench. During this time he was appointed by the United
Nations Organization, as a Judge of the special court for Sierra Leone.
Justice Raja Fernando as a Judicial officer tirelessly worked to
reduce the backlog of cases. He is renowned for his disciplined
lifestyle and his simplicity at work. He believed in actions, and
conduct rather than lengthy words. I believe, which qualities
encapsulated in him through his military training and his personality.
Justice Wilmot Dias Gunasekera - He received his early education at
Convent of St. Mary Immaculate in Matara and Richmond College, Galle.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of London
and completing his Advocate examinations at the Ceylon Law College, he
served in the Chambers of N.E. Weerassoriya QC and was called to the Bar
in 1946. He was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court in 1974. He was
also a former Secretary of the Bar Council, lecturer and examiner at the
Ceylon Law College.
“We also dedicate today’s proceedings to the following President’s
Counsels who have earned our respect and honour through their tireless
contribution to the Legal profession.”
Late President’s Counsel H.L. de Silva - Hailed as the “Hultsdorp
Lion” passed away in 2009 after an illustrious legal career.
President’s Counsel Desmond Fernando former President of the Bar
Association of Sri Lanka was also the only Sri Lankan to hold the
prestigious post of President of International Bar Association.
President’s Counsel Tyrone Fernando- An Oxford graduate, Barrister,
former Foreign Minister and Governor of the North-East Province was also
a Presidential advisor.
President’s Counsel A.L.M. Hashim- He was a Barrister and former
Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
President’s Counsel M. Kanagasunderam who served in the Attorney
General’s Department for 15 years thereafter joined the private Bar.
President’s Counsel A.K. Premadasa, former Chairman of the Press
Council of Sri Lanka and also the Chairman of the Associated Newspapers
of Ceylon Limited (ANCL) was a dominant figure at Hultsdorp for decades.
President’s Counsel A. M. Marleen who after 40 years of active
practice, then went onto join the foreign service as an Ambassador to