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Ananda-the Legal Fraternity

Ananda College has significally changed the Landscape of Sri Lanka in the aspects of Spiritual, Political, Cultural, Economic and Social. Legal profession is a unique profession, where a Right of an individual is balanced with themselves and society. As Montekshu stated Judiciary is one of main pillars of a society with the Executive and Legislature. Judges and lawyers produced by Ananda College, Colombo though few in number, had immensely contributed to the legal system, significantly. Thus not only creating history, but changing the destiny of Sri Lanka, in a positive manner.

Ethnic Harmony

Recent Sri Lankan history is covered with a grim picture of a conflict based on ethnicity. Anandians played a major role in providing military leadership in crushing LTTE by May 2009. Though some try to paint a picture of a chauvinist Sinhala Buddhist School which is against Hindus, the true picture of Ananda is quite a contrast.

  Leading Lawyer S.Sundaralingam, a Hindu at a ceremony of the Thibbatugoda Bodhimalu Temple on 06/02/2000 said “what did my father do when, leading Sinhalese sent their children to Jaffna school to get good English education, he sent me to Ananda College. My fathers’ best friend Sagara Palansooriya took me to Ananda. When I studied at Ananda, Sinhalese Buddhist, Hindus got togetherunder one roof, and we were immensely happy. Why can’t we even peacefully exist now?”

This statement is borne out by the distinguished Old Boys Register in Ananda College Golden Jubilee Souvenir(1936) where names appear as  S.Amirthalingam(Law College, Colombo) T.Balasingham(Student-at-law) U.N Coomaraswamy(Law College, Colombo) S.Kangasabapathy(Proctor, Chunnakam) P.Nadarajah(Proctor-Negombo) M.C Raju(Proctor, Colombo) K.Shamnyam (Bar-at-law, Colombo) V.Shivasubramanium(Advocate, Jaffna) K.Subramaium(Law student, Colombo) C.Thanabalasingham(Proctor, Pt.Pedro) and S.Vellaiten pillai(Law student, Colombo). This not only negates view of chauvinism at Ananda, but clearly demonstrates the contribution of Ananda to the legal profession, irrespective of race or religion.

Such professional service were provided for the entire country with many generations of  lawyers from Ananda, serving their clients with dignity and honor.

LTTE terrorists made an impact by killing old Anandian Lt.Vaas Gunawardhana and 28 soldiers in July, 1983 which resulted the Black July, an attack on the Tamils. This resulted the internal conflict turning to being focused in the international arena. In 2002 under UNP Government peace was initiated through the Norwegian facilitators, where history has now proven that it was detrimental to the national interest. In 2005 mainly due to the support of the Nationalist movement, H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa was installed as the President of Sri Lanka. An attempt was made for peace soon after he assumed power, with peace talks held in Geneva, between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE under the guidance of the Norwegian facilitators. Over confident LTTE, misread and commenced the Eeelam(IV), with closing of the Mavil Aru water canal. This culminated with the defeat of LTTE on 19th May 2009. Majority who lead the battle were old Anandians.

It will go down in the annals of history that the two legal Advisors of delegations of the Government of Sri Lanka and LTTE were old Anandians. Mr.Gomin Dayasiri, is a leading constitutional Appellate lawyer, son of ……………Dias, who opened the door for  students of leading Buddhists Schools to join the military, when it was open only for the children of elite schools. Mr.Shiva Pasupathi, is a former Attorney General; now residing in Australia. Both of them were the legal advisors to the Government of Sri Lanka and LTTE respectively at the peace talks.

No other school in the world than Ananda could claim such a instance, where a peace talk between two parties involved during a devastating battle could have legal advisors coming from the same school. This becomes more significant when, the conflict was based on ethnicity, and with one party known as the deadliest terrorist organization and being the only country where such terrorist out fit was finally beaten within four years after such peace talks.

Therefore Ananda, in the annals of Sri lankan history  can uniquely claim to be producing great sons of Sri Lanka, who brought unity among people, yet argued legally from both side and finally leading the military to eradicate terrorism from the country.

Judiciary and the official Bar

Judiciary has the power to hold the scale even at a conflict without fear or favour as demonstrated by the ‘Symbol of Justice’. The Attorney General’s Department as the official Bar has the quasi judicial power to prosecute offenders against society and protect the interest of the society. These two organizations play a pivotal role in preserving ‘Law and Order’ which is the foundation of any democracy.

Chief Justice as the leader of the Judiciary and Attorney General as the leader of the official Bar, naturally set an example and pace to these important organizations.

The first Ceylonese Chief Justice, Justice Arthur Wijewardhana, who assumed duty on 15th January 1948 in succession to Justice Sir John Howard, had his formative education at Ananda.

In the first page of Daily News 17th December 1948 with the headline of “FIRST CEYLONESE CHIEF JUSTICE” it read, “Mr.Justice Wijewardhana received his early education at Ananda College during the time of Sir.Baron Jayathilake was principal. He was the first student from a non-Christian school to win a Government exhibition on the results of the Cambridge examinations, the Ceylon mathematical prize and English University Scholarship. Like Dr.Garwin Mark, Mr.Wijewardhana had the unique destination of winning all these prizes”.

Justice G.P.A De Silva another illustrious old boy at Ananda College held the Acting Chief Justice position during……………………

In addition Justice K.D. De Silva,  Justice Sri Skandarajah, Justice Siva Subramanium, Justice S.R. Wijethilake, a younger brother of our former principal, S.A. Wijethilake, Justice D.Edirisooriya son of Head Master……………. who initiated the Cadets at Ananda, adorned the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka with distinction and integrity.

Even today there are a many Anandians who adorn the judiciary of Sri Lanka as High Court Judges, District Court Judges and Magistrates are dispensing justice, respected by both lawyers and litigant.

Mr.Shiva Pasupathi, President Counsel, was the Attorney General of Sri Lanka from…….to……… During his tenure he maintained highest independence of the Attorney General’s Department as an institution.

Mr.L.B.T. Premarathne held the office of Acting Attorney General at a comparatively young age. His untimely death, when he was Acting Attorney General deprived Ananda of having an Attorney General before Mr. Shiva Pasupathi. Mr. Premarathne created history when he made his address in Sinhala for the first time in the Supreme Court in the historical Coup Case, as the Attorney General. He addressed the court in Sinhala for 19 days. The reply was also in Sinhala by Dr. Colvin R De Silva. It is important to note that, out of the three Judges of Trial-at-Bar , two were Anandians, Justice G.P.A. Silva and Justice Silva Subramanium. They, with Justice Victor Tennakoon were Judges at Trial which lasted two years, during which Justice G.P.A. Silva was elevated to the office at Acting Chief Justice.

During this period of 125 years, Ananda had produced distinguished officers who served the Attorney General’s Department with diligence, hardwork  and dedication.

Unofficial Bar

Unofficial Bar consists of all lawyers practicing in courts and employed in the public and cooperate sector, excluding members of the Attorney General’s Department. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka is the body that represents the Unofficial Bar.

Mr. Upali Goonaratne President Counsel became the first Anandian to be elected as the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka from 1999-2001 of presidency. He was the secretary of the Bar Association in 1987-1989. During this period he was instrumental in bringing in many important and innovative projects which enhanced the legal profession. Two Anandians who held the positions of Chairman Welfare and chairman Junior Bar under Mr. Gooneratne’s presidency introduced, many new events and features to the calendar of events of which are continued even today. ‘Sankalpana’ an event bringing out the creative talent of lawyers, Welfare Centers extending to outstations, Junior Bar Conference and Effective Instructing Course to guide and assist the young budding lawyers were new features introduced under their leadership. Mr. U.R. De Silva an Anandian was the Secretary of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka during 2008-2010.

H. Sri Nissanka was the first Anandian to be appointed to King’s Counsel appointed by King George IV in................ Some of the Attorneys-at-Law produced by this great institution such as Late Mr. A.K Premadasa specialized in Rent Law, Mr. Andy Silva a civil practitioner and a former Commissioner of Prisons, Mr. Lionel Senanayake a civil practitioner and a former Judge and Secretary of Judicial Service Commission, Mr. Manohara De Silva a Constitutional and Appellate lawyer, Mr. Upali Gooneratne a criminal lawyer, Mr. Kosala Wijethilaka a criminal lawyer, a nephew of our late principal Mr. S.R Wijerathna were appointed as  President’s Counsels by the President of Sri Lanka after 1978. These appointments such as King’s Counsel and Queen’s Counsel were appointed by the British and the President’s Counsel by the President of Sri Lanka considering the service to the society in general and legal profession in particular.

Contribution to Society and Religion

In addition to defending the rights of individual through litigation, Anandian lawyers had changed the destiny of Sri Lanka by fearlessly appearing in social causes.

Late Mr. H. Sri Nissanka, K.C joined Ananda College during the period of Late Sir. D.B Jayathilake, and received the best student prize from Late Sir Henry Steel Olcott at the Dahampasala. He was instrumented in organizing the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) with Late Mr. S.W.R.D Bandaranake even selecting the party symbol and color. He was the President of Ceylon Buddhist Congress during........... and established Salgala Forest Monastery.

In fact initial discussions to establish the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, popularly known as “Yamuna Conference” were held in his residence “Yamuna”.

After Independence, attempts were made to conduct the proceedings of the original courts in native languages, Sinhala and Tamil. Silidu, a poor villager’s predicament, when he faced a murder charge in court is vividly described in R.L Spittle’s “Baddegama”. Though many made a genuine effort to introduce Native language into court proceeding, socio political elite, who was educated in English for obvious reasons did not render whole hearted cooperation. (Kurukulasooriya P.H, “Ananda” 1973:-“Ananda Contribution to the legal profession”).  Finally when language of the courts Act No 03 of 1960, became law to conduct the original court proceedings in Sinhala and Tamil, task of implementing the Act was entrusted to Mr. G.P.A Silva, then the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice. Being molded at Ananda in the tradition of preserving the language and the culture of Sri Lanka and upholding the rights of the common man, he dedicated himself to this historical yet difficult task.

Eventually when the Ministry of Justice to Join the Judiciary, this onerous task fell on another great Anandian late Mr. L.H.R Peiris, who contributed in entrenching the languages of the masses in court house. During the early days of implementation, a board was appointed to examine Judicial Officers in Sinhala to prepare them for the switch over to Sinhala. This   board consists of Justice G.P.A Silva as chairman and two other members, Mr. Newton Edirisinghe and Mr. A.D.J Gunawardhane who had also been closely associated with Ananda, at different stages of their school career.

 Mr. S.A.M Wijesinghe a former state counsel of the Attorney General’s Department, then the Secretary General of the Parliament during the  ..................... is an distinguished old Anandian. He in his wisdom and experience had guided the Parliament in building rich parliament traditions and privileges.

Mr. Gomin Dayasiri a former president of Ananda College lawyers’ wing, is a leading civil lawyer was in the team, who successfully challenged the Merger of the North and East provinces in the Supreme Court. Eastern province is a unique province with all three communities Sinhala, Tamil and Muslims in equal proportions. The Merger introduced during the Presidency of Late Mr. J.R Jayawardane would have created many issues during the post conflict period, not only among the three communities but also amongst Northern and Eastern Tamils.

Deeghawapi is a sacred place for the Buddhist being one of the twelve sites where Lord Buddha had visited in Sri Lanka. Attempt was made to give land only to Muslims in the nearby vicinity of the Dagaba, thereby depriving support system to the temple (Poshita Gammanaya). When an application was filed challenging this arbitrary, illegal process many lawyers represented to preserve the Buddhist interest. Supreme Court held with the contention and cancelled the scheme and ordered to alienate land from people irrespective of one single race. Amongst the many lawyers who represented in support of the cause, it was two Anandians Mr. Manohara De Silva, P.C who initiated the Petition with extensive research, and Author who appeared for the Deeghawapi Sanrakshana Sabha.

Lord Buddha’s image was used in a defiled manner in Sri Lanka and abroad even placing them on Bikinis and Slippers. A fundamental rights application was filed in Sri Lanka with Rev.Daranagama Kusaladamma Thero as the Petitioner with Author as the lawyer. Directions were sent by Supreme Court to Inspector General of Police and Director General of Customs to strictly implement the laws, which resulted many successful prosecutions. It resulted Mr. Lakshman Kadiragamar P.C Foreign Minister who was the 4th Respondent in this case, initiating many internationals moves which finally resulted UNESCO passing a unanimous resolution decrying having any merchandise with religious symbol on it, which create defilement.

Mr. Manohara Silva was able to successfully challenge in Supreme Court two bills to establish organizations meant to convert poor to other religions using devious means.

Mr. Gomin Dayasiri and Mr. Manohara De Silva also made representation to the Lesson Learnt Reform Commission (LLRC) a commission appointed by the President to investigate the conflict and make proposals for National Reconciliation.

Ananda College lawyers’ Wing was formed with Mr. Gomin Dayasiri as the founder President Subsequently Mr. Upali Goonarathne became President.

BIYAGAMAGE  JAYASENA FERNANDO

Presidents Counsel 

Jayasena Fernando

Born September 1934

Educated at Ananda College. Good Tennis Player at school.

Professional studies in the UK.

Joined Middle Temple and called to the British Bar in 1958, practiced as an Advocate in the UK.

Started in the chambers of late Hon. Neville Samarakoon Queen’s Counsel, Chief Justice as a Civil Lawyer.

Practiced in Appeal Court and later shifted to District Court.

Leading practitioner in District Court Colombo

1977 to 1980 Sri Lanka’s permanent representative at the United Nations

                             The Chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Peace Zone Conference - UN

                             The Chairman of the Disarmament Conference – UN

1988 Appointed President’s Counsel

Practice extend over 30 years.

Stopped his law practice on Vesak Full Moon day 1991and devoted his time to achieve supreme blessing of peace and tranquility of mind.

Passed away on 18 May 1997.

    “Knowledgeable in the Law, honest, able and brilliant.” –  tribute in Supreme Court 21 July 1997


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