Address by Mr. Kalinga Indatissa PC, President of the BASL at the ceremonial sitting of the President of the Court of Appeal on 06th of May 2019
His Lordship Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, President’s Counsel, President of the Court of Appeal,
Hon The Acting Attorney General, Mr. Dappula de Livera, President’s Counsel,
Their Lordships and Ladyships of the Court of Appeal,
Hon Judges of the High Court, District Court and Magistrates Court,
We are assembled in this Court this morning to ceremoniously welcome the recently appointed President of the Court of Appeal, Hon Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, President’s Counsel. The duty of welcoming Your Lordship on behalf of the Bar has fallen on my shoulders and I am deeply honoured and privileged to do so.
Your Lordship had an illustrious career at Ananda College, Colombo from 1971 to 1982. During Your Lordship’s entire career at this prestigious educational institute, which has made a highly significant contribution to the social fabric of this country, Your Lordship displayed high qualities of leadership. At school, Your Lordship functioned as a Junior Prefect, Deputy Head Prefect of the Junior Board of Prefects, a Senior Prefect and as a Senior Prefect Supervisor in 1982. Your Lordship was a member of the junior English debating team. In 1982, Your Lordship held office as the President of the Ananda College Buddhist Association.
After the successful completion of Your Lordship’s Advanced Level Examination, Your Lordship joined the Sri Lanka Law College in 1985 and was called to the Bar in 1987. Your Lordship served the pupillage in the Chambers of Mr. Ranjit Abeysuirya, PC and Mr. G. F. Sethukavalar, PC and after a brief period in the unofficial Bar, where Your Lordship had the opportunity of being attached to the Chambers of the late Mr. Ranjit Abeysuriya, PC, a former President of the BASL and Mr. B. J. Fernando, PC, Your Lordship joined the Attorney General’s Department on 1/2/1989. In 1999, Your Lordship was promoted as a Senior State Counsel and in 2005, as a Deputy Solicitor General. In 2015, Your Lordship was elevated as an Additional Solicitor General and in the same year, Your Lordship was conferred silk for the enormous contribution that Your Lordship had made to the legal profession.
Your Lordship’s long and illustrious career of 3 decades in the Attorney General’s Department has been an extremely productive and a fruitful one. Your Lordship has very successfully functioned as a Prosecutor, a Special Prosecutor, a Supervisory Officer, a consultant to the State, a Policy maker, a contributor to the enactment of several laws, and a much sought after advisor on many matters ranging from pure and simple Criminal Law to complicated issues of an international perspective.
During Your Lordships tenure as a member of the Attorney General’s Department, Your Lordship has functioned as an advisor to the Narcotics Bureau, Department of the Controller of Exchange, Securities and Exchange Commission, Insurance Board of Sri Lanka, Financial Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Criminal Investigations Department.
Your Lordship’s contribution in coordinating the multi-disciplinary criminal and forensic investigation into the alleged existence of the Chemmani mass graves will be remembered for a long time. Your Lordship also functioned as the Attorney General’s Counsel in the Vijaya Kumaratunga Commission of Inquiry, the Batalanda Tortue Chambers and the recently concluded Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the issuance of Treasury Bonds.
On numerous occasions Your Lordship has played a highly proactive role internationally. While such occasions are too numerous to mention, I would fail in my duty if I do not publicly recognise the contribution that Your Lordship made as Sri Lanka’s representative in the anti-terrorism investigation, conducted by the Anti-terrorism Task force of Australia, and in 2008 by the Metropolitan Police of the United Kingdom. Your Lordship also functioned as the primary counsel involved in the drafting of the “Assistance and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act”, No. 4 of 2015, and as a Chairman of the ICCPR drafting Committee of the National action plan for Human Rights. Since 2015, Your Lordship has functioned as the Secretary and CEO of the Presidential Task force for the recovery of stolen assets and proceeds of crime. In 2016-2017, Your Lordship functioned as a member of the Committee involved in the drafting of the new Counter Terrorism Act. In 1998, Your Lordship obtained a post graduate diploma in Forensic Medicine and Science from the University of Colombo. In 2005, Your Lordship obtained a Master’s Degree in Public International Law from University College London.
Your Lordship’s busy schedule of work has never prevented Your Lordship from making a significant contribution to the society. Your Lordship has been a much sought after resource person by the BASL and I am pleased to place it on record that Your Lordship was never hesitant in accepting an invitation to enhance the knowledge of our members. Your Lordship has, on many occasions presented papers on behalf of the BASL and the Government of Sri Lanka. Your Lordship has continued to be a delegate of the Bar Council and in such capacity, made a significant contribution to the activities of the BASL.
Your Lordship actively participated in the programmes of the Medico Legal Society of Sri Lanka.
Another significant contribution that I wish to recognise is Your Lordship’s involvement in legal education of this country. Apart from being a resource person, Your Lordship was attached to the staff of the Sri Lanka Law College and also functioned as the Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Your Lordship also functioned as a visiting lecturer of the Police Higher Training Institute, Bandaranaike Centre of International Studies, University of Colombo, Sri Jayawardenepura, Kelaniya and the Kothalawela Defence University.
This Honourable Court, of which Your Lordship currently functions as the President, plays a very significant role in the administration of justice. In terms of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, this court exercises jurisdiction over Appeals, Revisions and Writs. Articles 143 and 144 of the Constitution have vested in this Court, the power to issue injunctions and to hear Parliamentary Election Petitions. Apart from the Constitution, there are many other statutes which confer jurisdiction on this Court. Some of the provisions have undergone changes after the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Your Lordship will assume duties at a point when the peaceful multi ethnic society of Sri Lanka has been disturbed by the recent unfortunate events.
“Salus Civitatis Suprema Lex” is a maxim which is highly respected in any civilised legal system. This basically means that “security of a Nation and its people is of paramount importance”. What is more alarming for a Nation is the lack of accountability on the part of some who have preferred to ignore their public duty towards the people. The Bar takes a serious view of this fact, which in our opinion, is a breach of the doctrine of “Public Trust”. In this regard, The Bar would expect more vigorous and proactive decisions on the part of the Judiciary. The Bar has every confidence that the experience that Your Lordship has acquired during the last 3 decades will help Your Lordship to guide this Court towards this aspect.
Another challenging task that Your Lordship would face would be the elimination of the backlog of cases pending before this Honourable Court. The Bar on our part, will offer every possible assistance to Your Lordship in this regard.
On behalf of the Bar, I warmly welcome Your Lordship Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, PC on this occasion of Your Lordship’s assumption of Judicial duties as the President of this Court. We have every confidence that Your Lordship would steer this court in keeping with the highest standards of Judicial ethics, and with impartiality and without any fear or favour.
The Bar wishes you good luck in the discharge of Your Lordship’s duties. May the Noble Tripple Gem protect you and bless you now and always. May the forces which rule the world, offer Your Lordship guidance throughout Your Lordship’s judicial career.
May Your Lordship be guided by the great words in Dhammapada, Yamaka Vagga Verse 2:
manasā cē pasannēna
bhāsati vā karoti vā
tatō nam sukhamanavēti
chāyā’va anapāyinī. (1:2)
Mind precedes all knowables,
mind’s their chief, mind-made are they.
If with a clear, confident mind
one should either speak or act
happiness follows caused by that,
as one’s shadow ne’er departing.