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Justice Palakidnar was a mansion of noble thoughts

The tenth death anniversary of Justice K Palakidnar who was the President of the Court of Appeal fell recently and to mark this occasion a memorial oration will be delivered by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga on July 24, 2011 at 6 pm at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Independence Square, Colombo 7. President's Counsel A R Surendran will preside.


Justice K Palakidnar

In fact, "a great judge must be a man with a spark of greatness to start with, his job is the applied practice of wisdom and justice and these may not be borrowed from any of the calf-found books, but must spring from the man himself," so said a former Attorney-General and later Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.

Justice Palakidnar who was appointed as President of the Court of Appeal in 1992, was a judge who was gifted with infinite patience and a pleasant personality which are perhaps two attributes which are almost indispensable to withstand the pressure from the place of work in the Court of Appeal.

Judicial officer

As a judicial officer for more than 25 years, he always preserved the dignity of Courts and the image of justice. He always discharged his duties without fear or favour, affection, ill-will or bias. He knew the art of judging namely an attentive and receptive ears, a mind open to conviction, a will to do justice regardless of personal motives or prejudices.

Justice Palakidnar was born in 1931 at Kokuvil as the eldest son in a family of four boys and two girls. His father late S Krishnapillai was the Chief Trains Controller and was highly respected and loved by everyone at Kokuvil for his unimpeachable integrity and honesty. His mother late Pasupathy was a religious minded lady who brought up all her children in a religious atmosphere.

He had his early education at Kokuvil Hindu College, Jaffna Hindu College and subsequently at St Joseph's College, Colombo. He then entered the University of Ceylon and obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree and thereafter entered the Ceylon Law College and was admitted and enrolled as an Advocate of the Supreme Court in 1957.

He practised as a Junior under late C Renganathan (QC) and built up an extensive practice in the original and appelate Courts of Colombo in Civil and Criminal matters. By a sheer dint of hard work and his command of the English language, his knowledge of the law and his winsome ways he won the confidence and appreciation of the Bench and the Bar as an up and coming member of the legal profession.

As a lawyer, he maintained the highest professional standards. Generations of lawyers would be grateful to him for the contribution 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.

Devotion to duty

Justice Palakidnar joined the Judicial Service in 1966. He served as Magistrate at Anuradhapura, Ratnapura, Jaffna and as District Judge Kalmunai and Chavakachcheri. Thereafter, he was promoted as Grade I Judicial Officer and was appointed as District Judge, Jaffna.

After sometime, he was appointed as High Court Judge and served in this capacity in Chilaw, Negombo, Batticaloa and Trincomalee from 1982-1987 until he was appointed as Judge of the Court of Appeal. In 1992 October, he was appointed as President of the Court of Appeal.

Justice Palakidnar was a man of a few words and soft spoken and never uttered words that may hurt anyone. His impeccable manners, sincerity, devotion to duty and patience in dealing with lawyers immensely contributed to his success as a Judicial Officer. He had a vast knowledge of the laws and he shared it with those who sought his guidance. His warmth kindness and humility made those who were associated with him to admire his remarkable qualities and abilities. He was amiable, genial and versatile and lived a simple life without grudge against anyone. He abhorred ostentation and publicity. Further, he had absolute confidence in him because of his honesty, integrity and dedication. Intelligence, competence, merit, hard work, dedication and determination where his inherent attitudes which helped him to achieve frame and name as a judge.

After retirement as the President of Court of Appeal, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Special Commission on Disappearance in the North and East by the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. He was also the Director of the Human Rights Task Force.

Further, he attended the Asian Judicial Conference held in Hyderabad in India in 1995. He also attended the Asian Regional colloquium on the Judiciary and Intellectual Property System held in New Delhi. In addition to all these, he immensely contributed at the SAARC Law Conference.

Furthermore, at a seminar held by the Women Lawyers' Association in regard to 'Laws Delays' his participation and contribution were highly appreciated. In fact, he was also the President of the Girl Guides Association and was very much involved in art and culture. In fact, he was most sought after chief guest at music and arangetrams and religious functions.

Indeed, the secret of his success as a good judge and human being was that he was deeply religious. Throughout his life he observed the tenets of Hindu dharma. Further, he had a remarkable knowledge of Ramayana and Mahabharatha, Bhagavad Gita, Hindu Philosophy and Hindu religion. Besides, he had a mellowed wisdom and sagacious judgement of men and matters and sincerely and genuinely, he practised what he learnt from the Hindu scriptures. He was greatly involved in 'Raja Yoga Institute' activities and made several speeches.

In fact, he was an avid reader. In addition to his vast knowledge of the laws, he had an extensive knowledge in other fields such as literature, history, psychology, religion and art and culture. He was a meticulous and methodical person and had a passion for punctuality.

He was essentially a family oriented man and to his wife and children, he was a loving and devoted husband and an understanding affectionate father.

Undoubtedly, late Justice Palakidnar was a Sri Lanka to the marrow of his bones. His mind was a mansion of noble thoughts.

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