|Sunday, 2 June 2002|
First death anniversary : Justice K. Palakidnar
The sudden demise of Justice K. Palakidnar on the 2nd of June last year made all of us very sad indeed. On this fateful day he had been invited as the chief guest at a meeting of the Jaffna Hindu College, Old Boys Association, and while addressing a large gathering of old boys and friends he collapsed and passed away. There is no doubt that he passed away in a very happy and tranquil frame of mind, without anguish, pain and suffering. It is given only to a fortunate few to die in the way "Pala" died.
I first met "Pala" (as he is affectionately known) in the chambers of the late Mr. Ranganathan QC. Referring to his "sojourn" in the chambers of Mr. Ranganathan, "Pala" wrote thus: "In his chambers it was a closely knit family inspired by the very high standards set by Mr. Ranganathan... Discovering an appropriate legal precedent gave us all a collective thrill. "I recall with nostalgia the many occasions I was with Pala in the chambers of Mr. Ranganathan. And it was Pala who often "discovered an appropriate legal precedent."
Pala practised at the Bar for about 10 years and thereafter joined the Judicial Service as a Magistrate. He served as Magistrate and District Judge in different parts of the Island for several years before he was appointed as a Judge of the High Court.
For many years he functioned as a Judge of the High Court in the Eastern Province as well as in the Western Province.
With his wide experience at the Bar and as a Trial Court Judge there was no doubt that he would prove to be an excellent Appellate Court Judge. And so it was, when he was appointed a Judge of the Court of Appeal in 1987, and President of the Court in 1991.
He was indeed born to be Judge. He was endowed in full measure with the essential attributes of a Judge, namely, impartiality, integrity, and a strong sense of fairness and justice. He treated all alike, be he a Senior or a Junior. In short, he maintained the rich traditions the Bench is heir to.
As a man, he was gifted with an amiable, generous, kind and an honourable disposition. He conformed to the Roman ideal, "Honeste vivere, neminem laedere..." (I have lived honourably, I have never harmed any one) His life and work are best summed up in the words of Antony in Julius Caesar.
"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world "This was a man!"
G. P. S. de Silva.
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