Hello Aloysius!
Posted on November 23rd, 2017

By Hemantha Warnakulasuriya Courtesy The Island

What Yasantha Kodagoda, PC, did a few days ago, at the Commission was more far reaching than the great bank robbery itself. What he did opened a mythical Pandora’s Box. It contained all the evils of the world and exposed the charlatans and showed what they possessed beneath their veneer of sainthood, which hit them so badly that they had to hold press conferences at Sirikotha, which could be akin to a plea to exculpate their guilt. Suddenly hitherto unknown, Hector Appuhamy came to be known as one of those Members of the COPE Committee who had received telephone calls from the man who is better known than Ranil Wickremasinghe in this country, Arjuna Aloysius. The UNP was cornered.

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Then, I heard Sujeewa Senasinghe’s outburst. He asked a very pertinent question from the Prince which was tantamount to a challenge of his law degree. “If you call yourself a lawyer can you state two sections from the Civil Procedure Code?” This left the Prince speechless. What was worse, when I repeated the question to my juniors, one of the more adventurous ones asked me whether I could by memory repeat any section of the Civil Procedure Code or for that matter a section from the Criminal Procedure Code? My mouth became parched because I never thought of memorizing the Civil Procedure Code or the Criminal Procedure Code. Then, I thought of the famous saying “little learning is a dangerous thing”. Only a half-baked person would memorize any section of the Civil Law or the Criminal Procedure Code. Having realized my folly, I went on to relate a story about my first meeting with the greatest criminal lawyer of all times, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva. My good friend Morris Rajapaksha, who later became the Chief Minister of the Western Province, told me to accompany him to meet the great Colvin R. de Silva. He had sought an opinion from Colvin about a case that was pending in the Magistrate’s Court. Morris knew Colvin through his political connections. They were all Leftists, who subsequently joined Mrs. Bandaranaike. As we entered the residence in Kollupitiya, he was seated on the steps, wearing a sarong and banyan. As he saw Morris he smiled, got up and took us to his chambers. Having been to other chambers of great legal luminaries I was shocked beyond my belief to see a few cupboards with old books strewn here and there and it was so ill arranged like Colvin’s hair. He questioned Morris in his famous baritone voice. “What is the section of the Criminal Procedure Code you are worried about?” Then he looked here and there and he could not find his own volume of the Criminal Procedure Code. Morris Rajapaksha took off his bundle of books and gave his copy of the Criminal Procedure Code. Then he read the charge sheet from the case record file and after some search found his own Penal Code. Then, I regained my courage and asked him: “Sir, you don’t seem to have all the New Law Reports on your shelf, it must be in some other room”. Then he looked at me hard and said, “I have up to volume 50 of New Law Reports. It’s not necessary to have the newer volumes. Most of the volumes contain cases argued by me either for the petitioners or for the respondents”. Then he looked at Morris Rajapaksha and said, “Morris, I may have read these sections more than a thousand times. But every time I get a new case, I read the section again and again, and I always see something quite new and what I did not see the last time I read the section”. Then I like a fool asked him, Sir, you must have learnt the sections by heart, at least the important ones. He looked at me again and he brought his spectacles down and with his fingers rolled his hair back. “Hemantha, only fools learn sections in any code by heart and they never become successful lawyers. A successful lawyer will read, digest and give a different interpretation that he himself would not have been able to muster on the last time he read the section”.

So, the Prince could always take a clue from the greatest Criminal Lawyer this country has ever produced and say, “Only fools like his Parliamentary colleague would want anyone to by heart the Civil Procedure or the Criminal Procedure Code”. Then, he asked about the Prince’s law examinations whether he had sat them in the Principal’s air-conditioned office or not and whether his answers were written by the Principle himself, but that was not what mattered most. When the Prince took oaths the then Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, who was impeached by the Rajapaksa’s and subsequently reinstated under the present dispensation, was present with the other two judges of the Supreme Court to wish the Prince and even posed for a photograph in memory of this great occasion. That was disgusting to say the least. Though there was a petition sent to the Chief Justice as the Chairperson of the Council of Legal Education, and the manner in which the Prince got through his law exam and the manner in which the Principal conducted the same, Bandaranayake being the head of the Council’s Legal Education, threw the petition to the dustbin. So Mr. Senasinghe, no point crying foul about what happened. By reinstating the impeached Chief Justice to her position, you have tacitly condoned and accepted that the Council of Legal Education, headed by her, had found nothing wrong in the manner in which the exam was conducted and the marks the Prince got.

The question now before us is why you and Arjuna Aloysius talked to each other 62 times when you are an important member of the COPE Committee, appointed by Parliament, inquiring into reports among other things, inter alia, the greatest Bank Robbery in the country.

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