Mr. K.C. Kamalasabayon, P.C., who assumed duties as the
Attorney-General on 15.10.1999 retired on 7th April 7, 2007. Mr.
Kandapper Chinniah Kamalasabayson, an old boy of Hindu Primary
School (Hindu College, Colombo [Bambalapitiya] as it was then
known) and St. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia, was born on 8th
April 1949 and hailed from Trincomalee.
I have had the privilege of knowing ‘Sabayson’ personally
since late 60’s when both of us were at Sri Lanka Law College
which was then known as Ceylon Law College. At Sri Lanka Law
College Mr. Kamalasabayson excelled in studies and oratory.
He passed his final examination for Advocates in November
1971 with honours and won the gold medal for oratory. He was
enrolled as an Advocate on 23.6.1972. He devilled in the
Chambers of the late Mr. G. F. Sethukavaler, P.C., and his
brother the late Mr. K.C. Kamalanathan.
I had been meeting ‘Sabayson’ in the Chambers of Mr. G. F.
Sethukavlaer very often from 1972 to 1974. Both Mr. Sethukavaler
and Mr. Kamalasabayson had high regard and respect for each
other. Seniors and Judges respected "Sabayson’ for his
forthrightness and reposed confidence and trust in him. I have
heard that in a number of cases in which he appeared in the
Superior Courts he had conceded what is correct even if that was
not going to be in favour of his cases. Therefore the Judges and
others held ‘Sabayson’ in high esteem as one of the most
honourable members of the Bar this country has had.
Mr. A. Gnanathasan, Deputy Solicitor General had this to say
when the Attorney-General’s Department bid farewell to the
retiring Attorney-General in April 2007.
"I have had the privilege of knowing Hon. Mr. K.C.
Kamalasabayson, P.C., for the last three decades. I ardently
admire you sir, for your nobility, commitment, justice, tireless
energy, dynamism and perseverance to pursue and accomplish
whatever course you undertook."
Those words sum up the opinion ‘Sabayson’s’ friends and
colleagues had of him.
Since he became the Solicitor-General he has been a member of
the Council of Legal Education till his retirement as the
Attorney-General. I had the pleasure of working with him closely
in the Council of Legal Education for the last 3 years. Even at
the meetings of the Council he was forthright. ‘Sabayson’ and I
had to work very closely in a sub-committee when the issue of
admission of Tamil Students arose. He was not reluctant to take
decisions to do justice by those students. Time will prove his
foresightedness with which I had the pleasure to associate. I
also had the opportunity of interviewing him as the Chief Legal
Officer of the State in relation to various project maters and
whenever he felt that whatever the others say is correct he was
not reluctant to accept that. Even if he disagreed, he would
first give a good hearing and politely explain his reluctance.
Another important quality I observed in him was that he never
took decisions as the Head of the Department without consulting
his Junior Officers who have been assisting him on that subject.
He always respected and treated them as his learned friends and
equals and therefore all the officers in his department treated
him as a true ‘guru’.
Reflecting the views of his colleagues in the department, Mr.
Gnanathasan referred to the noble qualities of ‘Sabayson’ and
added as follows:-
"From these qualities I learned a lesson that you have to
command respect by deed and your action. You can’t demand
"He always approaches the issues with a human face, full of
love, sympathy and concern for social good. I saw him not only
as an able administrator, but also as a humanist using his
official position to serve the common people.
"You can rest assured Sir, that the officers of the
department will ensure the continuity of those ideals that you
required of us, by upholding them and passing them on as you
"Honoured Sir, although today you ‘retire’ from this
Department as its head, one such as you will continue to
‘inspire’ the lawyers for many years to come. We have no doubt
that as you revert to the unofficial bar after 33 years of
loyal, dedicated and fruitful service to this institution, you
will remain (as you have been) a role-model for those who make
‘advocacy’ their calling.
"Sir, you have a mind that cuts its way as vertically and as
easily to the very core of any problem as a knife through
butter. No problem is ever too big for your capacity or too
small for your attention. This amorphous intelligence of
yours’ gets amplified and highlighted by your transparent
sincerity and unswerving regard for truth. ‘Sir, you are a man
who Sri Lanka adores and the world admires’."
While he was in the Attorney-General’s Department he obtained
two Masters Degrees – one from the University of Colombo in
Public Law and other from King’s College, University of London
in International Business Law. In addition, he has successfully
completed the Government Legal Advisor’s Course at the Institute
of Advanced Legal Studies at the University of London, a course
in International Contract Negotiation, from the International
Law Institute in Washington, USA and a course in Construction
Contracts at the International Development Law Institute in
Having joined the Attorney-General’s Department in August
1974 he rose to be a Senior State Counsel in 1983 and a Deputy
Solicitor-General in 1992. He became an Additional
Solicitor-General in 1996 and took Silk in the same year. On the
1st December 1998 he assumed duties as the Solicitor-General.
Mr. Kamalasabayson, who mainly practised in Appellate and
District Courts in civil and administrative law cases, had been
the leading counsel for the Government in almost all the
important cases involving constitutional issues and in
international arbitrations. He had also appeared for the State
in the leading extradition case ‘Ruberu’.
After his retirement, Mr. Kamalasabayson was appointed to
another prestigious office – that was as a member of the
Monetary Board of Sri Lanka. That was in fact a recognition
given to his independence, integrity, knowledge and experience.
Since 2000 he had been chairing the Annual Convocations of
the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and also the first meetings of
the Bar Council. The decorum with which he conducted those won
for him the admiration of everyone. Even on certain occasions
when there were differences of opinion among the members of the
Council, all unanimously agreed to accept what the ‘A.G.’ said.
In fact instead of saying that he was honoured by being
appointed the ‘A.G.’ it may be appropriate to say that he
brought honour to that office. He held that office with great
acceptance by everyone.
He has been a Visiting Lecturer and Examiner of the Sri Lanka
Law College and the Law Faculty of the University of Colombo and
also the Open University.
Although he held the high office of the Attorney-General he
remained a simple loving personality – despite his advancing age
he continued to appear as the same old tall ‘Sabayson’ coming
smilingly on a scooter during his youthful years – and I still
remember the touching treatment he gave me when I went to
interview him on an official matter after my heart ailment and
after the meeting he escorted me to the lift and said "Neel,
why did you trouble yourself to come all the way after your
illness and I could have solved your problem on the telephone".
That is his unique quality.
In conclusion I might mention that ‘Sabayson’ lived as a true
Hindu and I have no doubt he would have attained "Moksha". The
loss of our true and sincere friend Kamalasabayson is a loss not
only to Hulftsdorp but to the entire Nation as well, and all I
can tell his beloved wife and dear daughter is that we share
their sorrow as ours.