Address by Mr. Kalinga Insatissa PC President of the BASL at the Ceremonial Sitting to bid Farewell to His Lordship the Chief Justice Honourable H. Nalin Jayalath Perera on 05th of April 2019
My Lord the Chief Justice, Hon. Justice Nalin J. Perera,
Hon. The Attorney General,
Hon. Judges of the Supreme Court,
Hon. Judges of the Court of Appeal,
Hon. Judges of the High Court, District Courts and the Magistrate Courts,
We are gathered here this morning to bid farewell to the 46th Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, Hon. Justice Nalin Jayalath Perera.
I consider it my privilege and honour of being entrusted with the task of expressing the gratitude of the Bar on the occasion of Your Lordship’s retirement from the exalted office of the Chief Justice.After an illustrious career at St. Thomas’ College, Kotte and at St. Thomas’ College, Gurutalawa, Your Lordship was called to the Bar in 1977. Your Lordship’s career in the Judicial service dates back to 1980 when Your Lordship joined the Judicial service as a Primary Court Judge. Before Your Lordship’s elevation to the Court of Appeal, and thereafter to the Supreme Court, Your Lordship, the Chief Justice, had the opportunity of serving in many parts of the island such as Mount Lavinia, Walasmulla, Kalutara, Matara, Colombo Fort, Ratnapura, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.
Your Lordship’s journey from the Primary Court, until Your Lordship’s appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court in 2016, was a journey of 36 years, during which period, Your Lordship, the Chief Justice, experienced the many sacrifices that every career Judge of this country is expected to go through. The Bar is mindful of the many sacrifices that a career Judge is called upon to make, while holding office in such capacity. Such sacrifices include traveling to far away stations to answer the call of duty and compromising on one’s personal and family life.
Immediately upon the appointment of Your Lordship as the Chief Justice of this country, the Supreme Court was faced with the challenging task of pronouncing a decision on a constitutional issue touching the very foundation of the “ Rule of Law” . This was a time that the entire Supreme Court was under public scrutiny within and outside Sri Lanka. The exposure and the experience that Your Lordship has acquired over a period of 39 years as a Judicial officer was reflected when Your Lordship led the Supreme Court to pronounce the decision based on sound principles of law and reason. The said decision restored public confidence and the perception of our Judicial system. Every member of this Honorable Court should take pride in being part and parcel of that decision.
The prestige which the judiciary enjoys today is the cumulative effect of high traditions built up and sacredly preserved by a succession of Judges for well over 2 centuries. The State should do nothing that will impair it, in the slightest degree. It should not regard decisions against the State as unfriendly acts and resort to retaliate to measures, whether they be legislative or administrative. It should, like any other litigant, learn to abide by the Judgement of the final Court. This is the surest way to increase its own stature and the power of the institution which it must, in its own interest, safeguard.
The role of a Judge is an extremely difficult one. A Judge is expected to listen to every single argument put forward by the respective parties before Court and arrive at a finding based on sound legal principles, justice and reason. The matters which come up for hearing before Court are based on rights of people. Invariably, one party would end up as the winner and the other party as the loser. The most important aspect in a transparent, and an independent Judicial system would be to instill and continue “public confidence” in such system. The judiciary and the Bar, both should be mindful of the principle that emanated from the celebrated authority, Rex v Sussex Justices, ex parte McCarthy, where it was stated by Lord Hewatt Chief Justice, the Chief justice of England “not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done”. This often quoted aphorism has been followed in our country for nearly 100 years.
I have had the honour and privilege of appearing before Your Lordship, the Chief Justice on numerous occasions. I have always walked out of Your Lordship’s Court with the full satisfaction that I received an unbiased, fair and a reasonable hearing. I am certain and confident that the entire Bar shares the same sentiments. Your Lordship has been a living example of a fair and a reasonable Judge. Your Lordship has been extremely Courteous to the members of the Bar, yet firm to the course of justice. Your Lordship has always respected the traditions of the Bar and assisted the Bar in many ways during Your Lordship’s career.
It is said that every person cannot hold Judicial office. A Judge is chosen to play that role. The hallmarks of a great Judge would include patience, balance of mind, ability to grasp any complexed question of law within a brief period, Judicial temperament and Courtesy to the Bar. In every particular his conduct should be above reproach. He should be conscientious, studious, thorough, courteous, patient, punctual, just, impartial, fearless of public 5clamour, regardless of public praise, and indifferent to private political or partisan influences; he should administer justice according to law, and deal with his appointments as a public trust; he should not allow other affairs or his private interests to interfere with the prompt and proper performance of his Judicial duties, nor should he administer the office for the purpose of advancing his personal ambitions or increasing his popularity. American Bar Association, Canons of Judicial Ethics, (1924), Canon 34.
When Your Lordship, the Chief Justice retires in a few weeks from now, Your Lordship could be happy of the fact that the Bar of Sri Lanka is grateful to Your Lordship for exercising Judicial functions in an exemplary manner, with absolute honesty and without any fear, favour or prejudice. Your Lordship possessed all the above sterling qualities expected of a Judge. The Bar is gathered here today to pay tribute and bid farewell to Your Lordship for having protected the sanctity placed upon the apex Court of the Republic by the people of the Republic.
On behalf of the members of the Bar, I take this opportunity to wish Your Lordship a happy and contended retirement. The Bar wishes you good health, peace of mind and long life.
My Lord, in conclusion, may I be permitted to quote from the book of Numbers Chapter 6 Versus 24-26
“ May the Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face
shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his
countenance upon you and give you peace.”