Chief justice Asoka de Silva
Friday, 31 July 2009 21:04

 SACKOBA - Canada Committee and Members salute our very own Distinguished Antonian.

Justice Asoka de Silva took oaths as Sri Lanka’s 32nd Chief Justice
Monday, 08 June 2009
OLD Antonian Justice Asoka De Silva appointed new Chief Justice. Justice Asoka de Silva took oaths as Sri Lanka’s 32nd Chief Justice. Justice de Silva a senior most Sri Lankan judge and a legal luminary, has served the judiciary for 37 years. He took his oaths before President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Justice de Silva began his legal career as a government Solicitor in 1972 and was appointed Deputy Solicitor General in 1991 and promoted as an Appeal Court judge in 1995. He was also serving on the judges’ panel of the United Nations War Crimes Commission. Justice de Silva was a distinguished student of ST. Anthony’s College, Kandy, a prestigious Christian educational institution in the hill country and entered Colombo University where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree. During his illustrious career, he was awarded scholarships to the London School of Law and the International Development Law Institute in the United States. Chief Justice Asoka de Silva replaces Sarath N Silva who served as Chief Justice for the past ten years.

He becomes the second Antonian to be the Chief justice of Sri Lanka after the late Hon Mr. Victor Tennekoon who was also the Attorney General before becoming the Chief Justice.

 Chief Justice – His Lordship Joseph Asoka de Silva
An Antonian

Written by Jayantha Peries  an old Antonian form Australia
Copied from ANTONEWS Australia July 2009   
8 June 2009 will be a red letter day in the annals of St. Anthony’s college. It is the day when the President handpicked our very own Asoka de Silva to the Highest office in the country’s judiciary, that of Chief Justice to deliver that Mission. In response, Asoka accepted the President’s call with humility, and pledged to uphold justice for all, irrespective of racial, caste or religious differences. This, When Sri Lanka needed it most, in the wake of a new era of hope and peace in Our motherland. With his familiarity with international law, especially with the Eyes of the world on Sri Lanka on allegations of genocide, ethnic cleansing and Human rights violations, we Antonians in Australia, along with the rest of Sri Lanka believe that the President has chosen the most qualified person to deliver The country from such a reputation.
In his first address to the joint Bench and the Bar, Justice Asoka made it clear of His understanding of the responsibility entrusted to him. But this he took up with Confidence as he told his peers, “I took office as a judge of the Court of Appeal in 1995, then as President of the Court of Appeal, then as Judge of the Supreme Court, and today, as Chief Justice. I take this office with responsibility and Confidence, as always. It appears that our country is on the threshold of a new era and I know that you will join with me in the hope that peace will prevail and that this country will move towards a lasting stability with understanding, Tolerance and contentment among its people”. It also makes us Antonians proud of the way he recognized St. Anthony’s College as the stepping stone which enabled him to reach this high office. In the same address to his legal fraternity he said: I would be failing in my address if I do not mention with affection and gratitude, my school St. Anthony’s and its teaching staff, which gave me The grounding and so paved the way for me to this present position.
Asoka was born in May 1946 and was an Antonian all his school life. I was privileged to know him as a fellow prefect. It is reported that when Asoka was informed of his elevation to this high office, there were no signs of ecstatic emotions. Asoka displayed this characteristic even back then in college. His point Of view was always measured, impartial and given with conviction and authority. His parents lived in Polgolla and they were parishioners of Sacred Heart Church in Katugastota. I must admit, I did not know until now that his father was an Academic with several qualifications in Law from the UK and Sri Lanka. His father had been in charge of the Law Department at the School of Cooperative, Polgolla, and had published several books on Law and the Cooperative movement. That explains how Asoka has inherited his brilliance in the field of law. I remember Asoka’s mother, an unassuming lady who was glowing in kindness and friendship and like all mothers was only intent on the best for her children. That explains asoka’s virtues of humility, kindness and family values. Asoka acknowledges that now he draws his inspiration from his own family, his wife Chintha, a quiet lady, modest in her husband’s achievements, and his children Channa and Kanishka. In his address to the Bar Association he expressed his appreciation “for their Patience and understanding and their steadfast encouragement to me on this long Journey”. On 18th March 2004, soon after his elevation to the bench of the Supreme Court, College recognized Asoka by awarding him the “ Antonian Excellence Medallion” for the honour brought to his alma mater by achieving excellence in the field of Law.
Justice Asoka’s appointment received unqualified acceptance from all quarters; the media, the legal fraternity and the public in general. Having waded through the numerous articles on the web on his appointment, it confirmed a unanimous feeling of “the right person” having been chosen to take the judiciary of the country forward at a critical moment in the country’s troubled history. Justice Asoka received immediate recognition and acceptance from his peers, especially from the Bar Association. In welcoming the new CJ, the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka had this to say about Asoka.
“The Bar Association of Sri Lanka rejoices at the elevation of Justice Asoka de Silva as the Chief Justice of our country. We are conscious that Justice Asoka de Silva’s elevation is a culmination of a long and distinguished career as Counsel and a Judge. Justice Asoka de Silva epitomizes the synthesis of experience, erudition and a passion for the pursuit of justice”. The following article by Bhagavadas Sriskanthadas of “The Nation” who has followed Asoka’s progress in his legal career sums up the sense of acceptance and confidence that the country has displayed across the board. His article read: “In the new CJ, the whole nation sees an honourable person, who never relied on political patronage to reach the position every lawyer aspires to hold. His judgments speak eloquently of his capacity for ingenuity in his legal approach and in his sharp intelligence. The dispassionate and dignified manner in which he Conducts himself as a judge, and the simplicity for which he is known in his private life, are aspects of judicial temperament. He cultivated a phlegmatic approach to life, after resigning himself to the fact that, joy and misery are two sides of the same coin. As a lawyer and judge for 37 years, he repeatedly witnessed one party litigated, following judgment, leaving the court room with great joy, while the other left crestfallen”.
The following is Justice Asoka’s trail in his ascendancy to the office of Chief  Justice:

1971 - Graduated from the University of Ceylon

1972 - Attorney-at -law of the Supreme Court

1974 - Joined the Attorney General’s Department

1987 - Became a Senior Deputy Solicitor General

1995 - Appointed Judge at Court of Appeal

2001 – Became President of the Court of Appeal and elevated to the Supreme Court in August in the    same year

2004 – Appointed to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as a permanent judge by the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan and served till 2008

2009 – Sworn in as Sri Lanka’s 32nd Chief Justice before President Mahinda Rajapakse Justice Asoka has obtained a Masters Degree in Administrative Law from the University of Colombo and has done a Postgraduate Diploma in criminology at the University of Illinois in the United States of America. He served as a lecturer in Law College as well as in the Faculty of Law. During his illustrious career, he was Awarded scholarships to London School of Law and the International Development Law Institute in Rome.

Jayantha Peries 
Copied from ANTONEWS Australia July 2009  



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