Opinion
Dr. Jaya Pathirana

Dr. Jaya Pathirana, hailed from the very respectable and outstanding Charles Pathirana family in Jaffna. He received his preliminary education at Central College, Jaffna. He was an Advocate, and a Law graduate of the London University. As an Advocate, he appeared in a number of criminal cases, as a Defence Counsel, in many parts of Sri Lanka.

Mr. Pathirana, was elected as a Member of Parliament, for Kurunegala, in the year 1962, by-election, during Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s regime. In 1972, he created history, as he was appointed to the high and onerous position of justice, of the Supreme Court from the unofficial Bar by Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. He was able to read, write, and speak, English, Sinhalese, and Tamil languages with equal fluency just as the former Speaker of Parliament Mr. K. B. Ratnayake, who too has received his education at Hartly College, Jaffna.

Many have written very eloquently of his sterling qualities, so I would like to refer only to a sensational case investigated by me, as a Police Officer, during the first communal riots in 1958, while I was stationed at Anuradhapura. On the day of the riots, I was sent to Hingurakgoda, Police Station by Mr. Berty Weerasinghe, SP/Anuradhapura division, to assist Inspector D. A. Sumanaweera, then OIC (later SSP) and to investigate into all the crimes reported in that area. I refer to a particular case investigated by me with the return of normaly. It was a case of accused unknown, murder, rape and arson. The first complaint of the aggrieved party, was recorded by me only nine days after the alleged offence was committed. In regard to this case, with the assistance of four constables, I arrested eleven accused, who were produced before Mr. V. K.. Kandasamy, the Magistrate, Anuradhapura/Polonnaruwa, and they were remanded to Fiscal custody.

Thereafter, all the accused were charged in the Magistrate Court, Polonnaruwa, for unlawful assembly, riot, murder, rape and arson. After non-summary proceedings, the Magistrate V. K. Kandasamy, discharged one accused, and ten accused were committed to stand trial, in the Supreme Court. Seven accused, were indicted by the Honourable Attorney General, and the case came up for hearing before Justice M.F. Pulle, in Kandy Assize. The case was prosecuted by the Crown Counsel, and was ably defended by Jaya Pathirana, with his juniors. by Mr. Pathirana, in the witness box for nearly seven hours, in cross-examination.

Finally, the Judge, told the Defense Counsel, "Mr. Jaya Pathirana, you have been tackling this witness a tough cop for a long time. He has given a very reasonable explanation for the delay in recording the first complaint which the Court has accepted," he said.

At the close of the prosecution case, one accused was acquitted, as there was no evidence against him while all the other accused were convicted on all counts, by a majority verdict of 5/2. The Judge sentenced the four accused to gallows, and two were sentenced to twenty years, rigorous imprisonment. The presiding Judge, Justice M. F. Pulle commended me highly for the excellent manner this complex case was investigated and for bringing the accused to justice through evidence unearthed by me. The jury too, made the same commendation. Mr. Jaya Pathirana, came up to me and congratulated me by saying "Mr. Rahim, you are a brilliant detective, you are an ideal officer for the CID."

The accused appealed against the conviction and sentence, in the court of Criminal Appeal, and the case came up for hearing before a Bench, comprising three Judges, Chief Justice S. C. Sansoni, as President, with Justice H. H. G. Fernando, and Justice Sinnathamby. Mr. V. S. A. Pullenayagam, Crown Counsel, appeared for the Crown, and no less a person than Mr. Colvin R. De Silva, appeared for the accused appellant, and after a lengthy argument, the appeals were dismissed. This case was reported in 62 New Law Report.

In 1972, when Dr. Jaya Pathirana, was appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court, by the Prime Minister, I went to the Supreme Court at Hulftsdorp, met him in Chambers, and congratulated him. He thanked me and said "Inspector Rahim, I remember the famous Hingurakgoda murder case. You did an excellent job in that case. Although, eminent counsel Mr. Colvin R. De Silva argued the case in the Appeal Court for the accused appellants, the appeals were dismissed" he said.

May his Soul Rest in Peace!
M. S. A. Rahim
Chief Inspector of Police (RTD)


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